NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter has remained isolated from the outside world.
Ingenuity's operators lost contact with the 4-pound (1.8 kg) helicopter on Thursday (Jan. 18), near the end of its 72nd Mars mission.
“Data sent to the Perseverance rover (which acts as a relay between the helicopter and the ground) during the flight indicates that it successfully ascended to its assigned maximum altitude of 40 feet (12 meters),” NASA officials wrote in a statement. Updated Friday (January 19).
They added: “During the planned landing, communications between the helicopter and the rover ended early, before landing.” “The innovation team is analyzing the available data and considering the next steps to restore communications with the helicopter.”
Related: The Ingenuity Mars helicopter calls home, breaking the 63-day silence
Creativity and perseverance landed together in February 2021 on the floor of the 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer) Jezero Crater, which harbored a large lake and river delta billions of years ago.
Perseverance searches for evidence of past life on Mars and collects samples for future return to Earth. Ingenuity serves as an explorer for the car-sized rover, an extended mission awarded by NASA after the small helicopter passed its original five-flight technology demonstration campaign in the spring of 2021.
It may be time for Perseverance to return the favor and help its little robot cousin.
“Perseverance is currently out of line of sight with Ingenuity, but the team could consider driving closer for a visual inspection,” NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages both robot missions, said. He said via X on Friday.
Ingenuity stayed aloft for more than 128 minutes and covered a total of 11 miles (17.7 kilometers) during 72 trips to Mars, according to Mission trip log.
It is currently unclear whether these numbers will continue to rise. We'll have to wait and see if Ingenuity can reconnect with the pioneering helicopter, the first vehicle ever to explore the skies of an extraterrestrial world.
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