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The Ingenuity Helicopter in flight on Mars. Alamy Stock Photo
Space Exploration

Nasa mission ends after three years on Mars as helicopter makes last flight

Bill Nelson said Ingenuity was the “little helicopter that could”, and that the aircraft has surpassed expectations.

NASA’S INGENUITY MARS helicopter has ended its three year mission, after being the first powered flight to take off from another planet.

The aircraft reached the Red Planet by being attached to the Perseverance rover. It was originally intended to test whether flight was possible in the Martian atmosphere. 

It ended up being deployed 72 times, and logged more than two hours of flight time in short bursts. 

The helicopter’s journey reached its end after its last outing saw it sustain rotor damage.

Yesterday, NASA said that the little aircraft had “surpassed expectations” by making dozens more flights than expected. 


NASA / YouTube


The helicopter remains upright and in communication with ground controllers, but it is no longer capable of flight. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that the “remarkable” helicopter “flew higher than ever imagined” and helped NASA to “make the impossible possible”. 

He said that the aircraft’s journey has paved the way for future flight in our solar system, and for safer exploration of Mars and beyond.

Nelson said that it is “bittersweet” that the “little helicopter that could” has taken its last flight on mars.

On its last flight the helicopter reached a height of 12 metres and hovered for 4.5 seconds before descending. 

However, controllers then lost touch with the aircraft. 

They managed to get back in touch the next day. 

Though the helicopter’s mission lasted for three years in our time, its journey lasted for 1000 days in Martian time. 

Project manager Teddy Tzanetos said: “History’s first Mars helicopter will leave behind an indelible mark on the future of space exploration and will inspire fleets of aircraft on Mars – and other worlds – for decades to come.”