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Picture Perfect: Mars Helicopter Hovering 39 Feet Over Red Planet Captures Stunning Image of Martian Landscape

NASA Spacecraft Shot Pics of Mars Desert That May Have Killed It
Source: NASA

A desert in Mars, one of the last pictures taken by the Ingenuity spacecraft.

Feb. 8 2024, Published 1:02 p.m. ET

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Ingenuity recently officially concluded its mission, leaving a lasting legacy through captivating images captured during its final days.

After nearly three years of exploration on Mars, the helicopter spacecraft has sustained irreparable damage, rendering it unusable for future missions.

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Newly released photographs offer an up-close view of the Martian desert, taken from a vantage point 39 feet above the surface. The images, which were recently shared, reveal a hilly landscape with a remarkably smooth surface.

However, it appears that this seemingly desert terrain posed challenges for Ingenuity, as the spacecraft was programmed to navigate rocks and ridges.

NASA's statement, reviewed by Mashable, highlighted the difficulty Ingenuity faced in navigating across terrain lacking distinctive features. Despite these challenges, the released photos provide a poignant glimpse into the Martian landscape.

The last flight of Ingenuity occurred on Jan. 18, ending with what NASA refers to as an "anomalous landing" in a desert region. Put more simply, cameras on board revealed that the spacecraft lost control and that one of its rotor blades was damaged upon landing.

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Taking a more upbeat stance, Administrator Bill Nelson recognized Ingenuity's outstanding accomplishments, pointing out that the helicopter exceeded expectations by traveling farther and higher than first thought.

Over its 72 flights, Ingenuity became the first known spacecraft to take flight on another planet, a testament to NASA's ability to overcome challenges and achieve the seemingly impossible.

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Ingenuity's limited range, covering 10.5 miles in 128.8 flying minutes since its first mission in April 2021, was constrained by its solar-powered batteries with a range of less than 1,000 feet.

Despite its modest speed of 4.9 miles per hour, significantly slower than Earth's helicopters, Ingenuity's lightweight design (4 pounds) and low altitude capabilities (topping at 79 feet) allowed it to fulfill its mission of closely examining the Martian surface.

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The primary objective of Ingenuity was to scout potential areas of interest for its companion spacecraft, the Perseverance rover.

Perseverance, currently based in Jezero Crater, is diligently collecting rocks and soil on Mars. NASA recently reported the successful collection of 23 out of 38 possible samples.

The rover's mission aims to gather crucial data from the crater, suspected to have been submerged in water at some point in the past. Despite Ingenuity's farewell, Perseverance continues its work, paving the way for potential future Mars missions.

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