NASA has lost contact with a small smart helicopter on Mars during its 72nd flyby of the Red Planet, and the US space agency says it is looking for a way to re-establish contact with it.
A helicopter that looks like a large, unmanned aircraft will become the first powered flying device to pilot a flight to another planet in 2021. It arrived on Mars with the Perseverance rover, which would act as an “in-between,” collecting intelligence data and sending it back to Earth.
Ingenuity reached a height of 12 meters on Jupiter's flight, NASA explained. But during the descent process, the communication between the helicopter and the rover was cut prematurely before landing. The US agency added that the teams responsible for the helicopter were “analyzing available data and considering next steps to restore contact”.
The flight was made to check the helicopter's settings, as the previous flight had landed earlier than planned.
In a post at NASA's X to Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which developed the helicopter, the Perseverance rover cannot currently “see” the intelligence, but is considering approaching the area for “visual inspection.”
NASA has also lost contact with the helicopter in the past, like last year when it lost contact with the helicopter for two months. However, that communication breakdown was expected.
The ingenuity, weighing just 1.8 kilograms, was originally planned to make only five flights, but the mission exceeded all expectations. In total, it ran 17 kilometers and reached a height of 24 meters. Its longevity is remarkable, as it must “survive” the cold of the Martian night and is heated only by its solar panels that charge its batteries during the day. Therefore, it became the permanent “companion” of the Perseverance rover, whose mission is to search for traces of ancient life on Mars.