Monday, March 4, 2024

NASA gave respect to Ingenuity. Mission engineers “move” the broken blades of the Martian helicopter to analyze the damage.

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On January 31, NASA conducted a live broadcast to pay respect to the Martian helicopter Ingenuity, which had a damaged rotor during its last flight. During the live broadcast, mission leaders reported that all four lobes were damaged during the rough landing.

Teddy Tsanetos, Ingenuity project manager, said that NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are still not sure what caused the damage to Ingenuity’s blades. It remains unclear whether the rotor lost power during descent, leading to the fall, or whether it accidentally hit the surface of Mars, causing a «discharge of electrical energy».

Ingenuity spacecraft, captured using the rear camera of the Mars Perseverance on April 4, 2021, in the 44th year of its mission. Source: NASA JPL

Zanetos added that to determine the nature of the damage to Ingenuity, mission engineers will slowly rotate the rotor blades and “shake” them or adjust their angle, while simultaneously recording video. This will allow the command to better understand the extent of the damage. However, Cenatos noted that, regardless of what data would be collected, Ingenuity completed its mission and would not conduct any more flights.

«Similar helicopters are not designed for flights even with the slightest imbalance, in the next week our mission will be completed», — said Tsanetos during live broadcast.

During the live broadcast, NASA mission leaders expressed gratitude to Ingenuity for its significant contribution to the exploration of Mars. Tiffany Morgan, deputy director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA, reported that Ingenuity has become a valuable companion to Mars Perseverance since its parallel landing on 18 February 2021.

The helicopter was initially designed to complete only five flights — its mission ended after number 72.

Ingenuity exceeded all expectations, especially considering that its creation was based on ready-made commercial components for cellular phones. Flying to another planet was a revolutionary idea. Morgan underlined that the ability to fly in the thin Martian atmosphere is an important achievement for JPL and portends future missions.

NASA is already considering the possibility of using similar helicopters on other planets, using the experience gained thanks to Ingenuity. Academics and engineering organizations expressed pride and gratitude to all who invested their energy and efforts in the creation of this revolutionary Martian spacecraft.

«The NASA JPL team not only demonstrated the technology, they demonstrated an approach that, if we use it in the future, will help us explore other planets and will be as impressive and amazing as Ingenuity», — said Morgan.

«We are very proud and happy with the life our baby has lived. For all of us this was the mission of our entire life. I want to say thank you to everyone who dedicated their weekends and nights to it. “To all the engineers, scholars, technical specialists who created this helicopter”, — said Tsanetos.

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