February 27, 2024

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NASA regains contact with its Mars helicopter: NPR

NASA regains contact with its Mars helicopter: NPR

A NASA illustration shows the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on the surface of the red planet near the Perseverance rover, left.

NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP


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NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP

A NASA illustration shows the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on the surface of the red planet near the Perseverance rover, left.

NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP

NASA is back in touch with its beloved Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, after two days of a communications blackout.

The agency said communications were disrupted on Thursday, when the small autonomous plane was sent on a “rapid pop-up vertical flight” to test its systems after an early, unplanned landing during its previous flight. In the status update On Friday night.

NASA said the Perseverance rover, which transmits data between the helicopter and the ground during flights, showed that Ingenuity had ascended to its maximum assigned altitude of 40 feet.

During the planned landing, the helicopter and rover stopped communicating with each other.

But the good news came late Saturday, when NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted that it had reestablished contact with the helicopter after instructing the rover to “conduct long-term listening sessions for the Ingenuity signal.”

She added that the Ingenuity team is reviewing new data to understand the unexpected communications outage that occurred during the helicopter's 72nd flight.

Ingenuity has already surpassed its original mission, having demonstrated that powered and controlled flight is possible in the thin, cold Martian atmosphere, in what NASA describes as a Martian flight. Another world “Wright Brothers moment.”

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It has since moved to a new stage, paving the way for future drone exploration on Mars and other worlds.