NASA reestablishes communication with smart helicopter on Mars after crash

Data from the helicopter is transmitted to Earth by Perseverance.


NASA has re-established communication with its small helicopter on Mars, the US space agency said Saturday, sparking fears that the hard-working rover had finally met its end after an unexpected malfunction.

The ingenious, roughly 1.6-foot-tall (0.5-meter) drone will arrive on Mars in 2021 aboard the Perseverance rover, becoming the first motorized craft to fly autonomously on another planet.

Data from the helicopter has been relayed to Earth by Perseverance, but communications were suddenly cut off during a test flight on Thursday, Ingenuity's 72nd lift-off on Mars.

„Good news today,” NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) wrote on X, formerly of Twitter, late Saturday.

The company said the helicopter was contacted by commanding Perseverance to „perform long listening sessions for a signal of intelligence.”

„The team is reviewing new data to better understand the unexpected comms dropout during Flight 72,” it added.

NASA previously said the intelligence reached an altitude of 40 feet (12 meters) on Flight 72, a „quick pop-up vertical flight to check the helicopter's settings, which had made an unplanned early landing during its previous flight.”

But as it landed, the agency said, „communications between the helicopter and the rover were terminated prior to touchdown.”

JBL noted Friday that the persistence is temporarily „out of sight with intelligence, but the team may consider driving closer to a visual inspection.”

In response to a post on X about whether the Intelligence could fly again, JBL said Saturday, „The team needs to evaluate the new data before making that determination.”

READ  NASA's Ingenuity helicopter returns to flight after unplanned landing

NASA lost contact with the helicopter two months ago last year.

The mini-rotorcraft, which weighs four pounds (1.8 kilograms), has exceeded its original goal of making five flights over the Red Planet in 30 days.

In total, it covers 10 miles (17 kilometers) and reaches a height of 79 feet (24 meters).

Its lifespan has proven remarkable, especially when it has to survive glacially cold Martian nights, kept warm by solar panels that recharge its batteries during the day.

Working diligently, it acted as an airborne scout to aid its wheeled companion in searching for possible signs of ancient microbial life.

(Other than the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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