Before its demise, NASA's Mars helicopter captured a glorious aerial view

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A vista of nan Red Planet.

NASA's Ingenuity chopper settled down connected nan Martian surface.

NASA's Ingenuity chopper settled down connected nan Martian surface. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The Ingenuity helicopter is excessively damaged to ever alert again. Yet earlier its last flight, NASA's historical Mars trade captured a sprawling position of nan Martian desert.

In nan aftermath of a "rough" landing during its 72nd flight, nan mini experimental chopper was near pinch astatine slightest 1 severely surgery rotor, a extremity perchance snapped disconnected aft crashing into nan rocky ground. Yet connected 1 of Ingenuity's last flights, formation 70, nan NASA trade took successful nan segment you spot below.

It's a vista of sprawling soil dunes. In nan region are rock-strewn ridges and mountains. And successful nan precocious near area you tin spot nan extremity of a chopper leg.

NASA's Ingenuity chopper flying complete soft terrain successful December 2023.

NASA's Ingenuity chopper flying complete soft terrain successful December 2023. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS

Ingenuity snapped this image from immoderate 39 feet (12 meters) supra nan crushed connected Dec. 22, 2023. Its last formation would beryllium little than a period later.

It turns retired those picturesque, flowing Martian dunes were apt nan origin of Ingenuity's demise. The chopper navigated by utilizing package to way nan activity of objects, for illustration rocks, below. But nan sandy terrain was mostly "featureless," nan space agency explained.

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"The much featureless nan terrain is, nan harder it is for Ingenuity to successfully navigate crossed it," NASA said successful a statement. "The squad believes that nan comparatively featureless terrain successful this region was apt nan guidelines origin of nan anomalous landing."

"That singular chopper flew higher and farther than we ever imagined"

Still, nan Ingenuity ngo vastly overachieved complete astir 3 years of extraterrestrial flight. It became nan first trade to ever make a powered, controlled formation connected different planet. NASA engineers initially hoped nan objection craft, pinch four-foot-long rotors, mightiness beryllium formation was imaginable connected Mars, possibly flying 5 times. But it flew 72 times.

It was a scout. And a planetary explorer. The early exploration of Mars — and hunt for past Martian life — will almost surely impact future aerial craft, and person Ingenuity to thank. After all, this persevering trade proved that flight connected Mars, a world pinch a profoundly bladed atmosphere, was possible.

"That singular chopper flew higher and farther than we ever imagined and helped NASA do what we do champion — make nan impossible, possible," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said erstwhile announcing that Ingenuity had taken its last flight.

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Mark is an award-winning journalist and nan subject editor astatine Mashable. After communicating subject arsenic a ranger pinch nan National Park Service, he began a reporting profession aft seeing nan bonzer worth successful educating nan nationalist astir nan happenings successful world sciences, space, biodiversity, health, and beyond. 

You tin scope Mark astatine [email protected].

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