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NASA announces end of history-making Mars helicopter mission

photo of NASA
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flies over Mars in an undated illustration provided by Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo)

A ‘bittersweet’ moment, NASA officials say

By Joey Roulette | REUTERS

NASA said on Thursday that its miniature robot helicopter Ingenuity, which in 2021 became the first aircraft to achieve powered flight on another planet, can no longer can fly, ending a mission that lasted far longer than originally planned.

“It is bittersweet that I must announce that Ingenuity, the ‘little helicopter that could’ … has now taken its last flight on Mars,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a recorded video posted on social media.

The U.S. space agency said Ingenuity struggled to communicate with Earth in its final days and that one of its carbon fiber rotorblades looked bent in a recent image taken by Perseverance, the rover from which Ingenuity deployed in 2021.

What began as a planned 30-day mission to demonstrate five short flights on Mars turned into a nearly three-year scientific endeavor involving 72 flights. Ingenuity flew a combined distance in its various flights that was 14 times farther than originally planned, NASA said.

Editor’s Note: Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Will Dunham


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