NASA has ended the Ingenuity helicopter mission on Mars after three years. The aircraft sustained damage to one or more rotor blades and was no longer able to fly.
“The historic flight of Ingenuity, the first aircraft on another planet, has come to an end,” NASA’s Bill Nelson said in a video on Thursday.
The US Space Agency says that the unmanned helicopter made an emergency landing during its penultimate flight. During its final flight on January 18, Ingenuity lost contact with the Perseverance rover from which it was launched, during its landing.
Engineers reconnected the next day, but photos taken by Perseverance several days later showed damage to the plane.
Creativity expectations ‘largely exceeded’
According to NASA, the Ingenuity mission was a success and exceeded expectations. The unmanned helicopter is designed to carry out five test flights within thirty days.
Ultimately, 72 flights have been operated since April 2021. Ingenuity has also been shown to be able to fly fourteen times farther than planned. The helicopter was the first aircraft to fly on another planet.
“With missions like this, NASA is paving the way for future flights into our solar system and for smarter, safer human exploration to Mars and beyond,” Nelson said.