NASA's Mars Helicopter Sends Final Message to Earth

Ingenuity Mars helicopter
Ingenuity Mars

On Tuesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) revealed that the Ingenuity Mars helicopter has sent its last communication to Earth and will now be stationary on the surface of the red planet to collect data.

The Ingenuity Mars helicopter is about the size of a tissue box which made history by flying under the Perseverance rover launched on April 19, 2021.

On social media platform X, NASA referred to it as a "long goodbye." The team received the final message from the #MarsHelicopter. It will now be stationary and collect data that could help future Mars explorers.

Originally, the plan was to show that flight was possible in Mars' thin air with five test runs. But Ingenuity went beyond expectations. It flew 72 times, spending over two hours in the air, dealing with dust storms, tough terrain, a broken sensor, and freezing weather.

The helicopter's role changed to helping its rover companion find signs of ancient life on Mars. It was meant to work in spring, but its heating system couldn't stay on in winter nights. This caused the flight computer to freeze, so engineers had to come up with new plans.

NASA shared on Monday its efforts to bring Martian rocks back to Earth faster and cheaper. The agency has faced criticism for going way over budget.

Meanwhile, China is making progress on a simpler sample-return mission to Mars, aiming for around 2030, which could make it the first nation to do so.

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