All things wild and wonderful must come to an end. NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter suffered a “hard landing” on January 18’s 72nd flight, damaging one or more rotor blades, rendering it no longer capable of flight. The aircraft remains upright and in radio contact with Earth-bound controllers, but its remarkable run as the first “aircraft” to fly aerodynamically above another planet is over.
NASA designed Ingenuity as a “technology demonstration” expected to fly above the Martian surface for five flights over 30 days. That was three years ago. The aircraft exceeded NASA’s expectations by flying more than 14 times farther than planned.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, said, “The historic journey of Ingenuity, the first aircraft on another planet, has come to an end. That remarkable helicopter flew higher and farther than we ever imagined and helped NASA do what we do best – make the impossible, possible. Through missions like Ingenuity, NASA is paving the way for future flight in our solar system and smarter, safer human exploration to Mars and beyond.”
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