NASA’s damaged Ingenuity helicopter spotted in Mars rover photo

A Mars landscape with NASA's Ingenuity helicopter in the background.
A Mars landscape with NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter seen on the dune in the distance. NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

NASA’s Mars rover, Perseverance, has captured an image (above) showing the final resting place of the damaged Mars helicopter, Ingenuity.

Perseverance took the picture on February 4, nearly two weeks after NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) confirmed that Ingenuity had completed its 72nd and final flight on the red planet.

During that flight on January 18, Ingenuity suffered irreparable damage to a rotor blade, leaving the 4-pound- 19-inch-tall aircraft grounded for good.

In the image captured by Perseverance, we can see Ingenuity in the far distance, alone on a dune, while in the foreground a variety of rocks dot the landscape. The image below shows the same shot cropped, with the helicopter in the center:

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter at its final resting place on Mars.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter at its final resting place on Mars. NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

It could be one of the last images we receive of the Ingenuity helicopter.

The remarkable drone-like machine performed well beyond expectations during its time nearly two years on the distant planet. After entering the record books in April 2021 for becoming the first aircraft to perform powered, controlled flight on another planet, Ingenuity’s mission transitioned from a technology demonstration to a test of its ability to assist the Perseverance rover in its quest to uncover evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.

Ingenuity did this by using its downward facing camera to explore the landscape inside Jezero Crater for areas of interest for the rover to investigate up close. Once a location of interest had been determined, aerial data from the helicopter could then be used to help the rover team to plot the safest and most efficient route for wheel-based Perseverance to take to it.

Ingenuity’s mission was such a success that NASA engineers are set to build a larger, more advanced version of the machine for future missions to Mars and possibly beyond.

Shortly after news broke that Ingenuity had taken its last flight, JPL released a video highlighting the legacy of this extraordinary aircraft.

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