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The Mars mission of the NASA helicopter has concluded after a duration of three years.
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The Mars mission of the NASA helicopter has concluded after a duration of three years.

The space agency announced on Thursday that the Ingenuity Mars helicopter, operated by NASA, has completed its mission after a duration of almost three years.

The airplane, which was transported to Mars by the Perseverance rover, experienced damage to its rotor blades during landing on its final trip. As a result, it is now unable to fly.

The Ingenuity team planned a short vertical flight for the helicopter on January 18 in order to check its position following an unexpected landing. However, while in flight, Ingenuity was unable to communicate with Perseverance, which was acting as a link for the rotor. The reason for the communication failure that resulted in damage during landing is currently under investigation.

FILE - The Mars Ingenuity helicopter photographs its shadow with its black-and-white navigation camera during its second flight, in this image released by NASA on April 22, 2021.

The Mars Ingenuity helicopter captures an image of its shadow using its black-and-white navigation camera on its second flight, as seen in this photo released by NASA on April 22, 2021.

As the first aircraft to operate on another planet, Ingenuity performed 72 flights and flew nearly 14 times farther than originally planned, and its mission of almost 1,000 Martian days was 33 times longer than originally planned. Its original intention was to prove flight was possible in Mars’ ultra-thin atmosphere, but it went on to act as an aerial scout to assist its robot rover companion.

The endurance of Ingenuity was greater than expected because it relied on a solar-powered heating system to keep it safe during the frigid Martian nights.

In a video message, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared the bittersweet news that Ingenuity, the small but mighty helicopter, has completed its final flight on Mars.

Similar to the Wright brothers, who made significant advancements in aviation on Earth during the early 1900s, Ingenuity has opened up possibilities for future space travel within our solar system. Furthermore, it is setting the precedent for more intelligent and secure human expeditions to Mars and beyond.

The Ingenuity team will perform last evaluations on the helicopter’s systems and collect any remaining images and data saved in the onboard memory of Ingenuity.

This report includes data from NASA, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters.