After three years

Mars drone “Ingenuity” sent its last message

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17.04.2024 14:52

After more than three years on Mars, the mini helicopter "Ingenuity" has sent its last message to Earth. After a "long farewell" to the surprisingly durable device, the last data record was received at the control center on Tuesday, NASA announced.

However, "Ingenuity" will remain on Mars and continue to collect data "that could benefit future explorers of the Red Planet", the US space agency added. NASA described the future daily routine of the mini-helicopter, which resembles a drone, as follows: "It will wake up daily, activate its flight computers and test the performance of its solar cells, batteries and electronics." It will then take a photo of the surface every day and collect temperature data.

Searching for signs of possible life
The helicopter, which resembles a drone, landed on the Red Planet in February 2021 together with the Perseverance rover and supported it as an "aerial reconnaissance vehicle" in the search for signs of possible life on Mars. In April 2021, Ingenuity completed its first flight - a first in the history of space travel.

Ingenuity on Mars - the broken rotor blade on the right (Bild: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS)
Ingenuity on Mars - the broken rotor blade on the right

At the beginning of the mission, the goal for the helicopter, which weighs just 1.8 kilograms, was to complete five flights on Mars within 30 days. In the end, however, 72 flights were completed in almost three years. In January, NASA reported that the aircraft had suffered damage to "one or more" rotor blades and could no longer fly.

Defied storms, treacherous terrain and freezing temperatures
Overall, however, the longevity of the small aircraft exceeded all expectations. It defied dust storms, treacherous terrain, a dead sensor and the extremely icy temperatures on Mars. The solar-powered heating system, which was designed for operation in spring, could not remain switched on all night in winter - which caused the flight computer to freeze. However, the engineers succeeded in developing new procedures.

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