NASA has temporarily lost contact with its Ingenuity helicopter, which is deployed in Mars’ Jezero Crater with the Perseverance rover from 2021.
Ingenuity made its 72nd flight on January 18, but while descending, communications between the helicopter and the Perseverance rover were unexpectedly interrupted before landing.
This was a small up-and-down movement at a height of 12 meters for 32 seconds, in an area outside the field of view of the rover’s camera.
Although the possibility of directing Perseverance to the area where the helicopter was located was considered, the team on Earth analyzed all available data and decided to direct Perseverance to run long-term listening sessions, leading to 21 Permission to regain contact was granted in February. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) reported on its X account.
The first controlled-powered flying aircraft in the world, Ingenuity is half a meter long and weighs 1.8 kg. It has six lithium-ion batteries that are charged by solar energy. Its four carbon fiber blades are arranged in two rotors that rotate in opposite directions at about 2,400 rpm, much faster than a helicopter on Earth.
Since April 2021, the Mars helicopter has flown for more than 128 minutes, covering a distance of 17 km and reaching a height of up to 24 meters. It contributes with its images to planning the Perseverance rover’s surface exploration.