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SPACE

NASA finds a damaged helicopter in the Mars desert

Ingenuity far surpassed expectations before its rotor blades were damaged. NASA has released photos of the chopper’s final resting place on Mars.

Update:
Perseverance rover spots damaged Ingenuity chopper

Ingenuity arrived on Mars in February 2021 on the underside of the Perseverance rover. The four-pound chopper’s mission was independent of its car-sized companion on the Red Planet.

It made history by becoming the first ever aircraft to acheive controlled and powered flight on another planet. It showed that it was possible to fly in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere, which at the surface is only about one percent the pressure compared to our planet.

However, in January this year, after three years of surpassing expectations on the Red Planet, NASA announced that “one or more” of its four-foot rotor blades had sustained damage during a hard landing and that it was no longer capable of flight. Its mission had planned for only five flights, but it went on to conduct 72 covering more than ten miles in total, the longest one was 2,315 feet, over fourteenfold any originally planned.

NASA finds a damaged helicopter in the Mars desert

This week the space agency bid farewell to ‘Ginny’ and released a photo taken by Perseverance of the crippled Mars helicopter. The image was captured by the rover’s Mastcam-Z imager from roughly 1,475 feet (450 meters) away.

The sandy dunes in Neretva Vallis that are Ingenuity’s final resting place were nicknamed ‘Valinor Hills’ by the Martian helicopter’s team on Earth. The name is in reference to the ‘Undying Lands’ in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’.

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