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Daily Dose of Astronomy

Perseverance Gives Us One Last Look at the Damaged Ingenuity Helicopter

Explore the remarkable journey of Ingenuity, the first helicopter to achieve flight on another world, through the lens of the Perseverance rover and the artistic talent of Simeon Schmauß. Discover how this pioneering mission on Mars has expanded our understanding of extraterrestrial flight, ending with a breathtaking mosaic that gives a human-eye view of Ingenuity’s final resting place in the Neretvav Vallis.

Ingenuity’s Historic Mission

Ingenuity, a tiny helicopter, embarked on a groundbreaking journey to Mars as part of the Mars 2020 mission with the Perseverance rover. Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and partners, Ingenuity’s mission was to demonstrate the feasibility of powered flight in Mars’ thin atmosphere.

Design and Technology

  • Height and Rotor Span: Standing at 0.49 meters with a 1.2-meter rotor span, Ingenuity was designed with large rotors to compensate for Mars’ thin atmosphere.
  • Rotor Speed: Its rotors spun at an impressive 2,400 revolutions per minute, a necessity for achieving lift on Mars.
  • Power and Navigation: A solar panel charged its batteries, while a wireless system and navigation sensors guided its flights.

The Final Flight

Ingenuity’s journey concluded after 72 successful flights, with its last on January 18. A damaged rotor blade from an emergency landing rendered it inoperable, marking the end of its exploration.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Left Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mast. This image was acquired on Feb. 4, 2024 (Sol 1052) at the local mean solar time of 13:05:37. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

A New Perspective on Mars

Simeon Schmauß, a GeoVisual Design student, used images from Perseverance to create a stunning mosaic of Mars, offering a view as if seen through human eyes. This mosaic, color-corrected to match human vision, showcased Ingenuity’s final resting place in the Neretvav Vallis.

Conclusion

Ingenuity’s mission on Mars was a resounding success, proving that powered flight is possible on other planets. Its legacy will inspire future missions, and its final image serves as a poignant reminder of human ingenuity and the quest to explore the unknown.