Perseverance rover spots the detached blade of Ingenuity helicopter on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover has spotted the detached rotor blade of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars on February 24, 2024.

All the scientific instruments of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover
Location of the SuperCam instrument on the Perseverance rover. (Image credit: NASA)

The rover’s SuperCam instrument captured this mosaic, which is made up of seven images, and during that time, the rover was about 1,365 feet (415 meters) away from the helicopter.

NASA's Perseverance rover spots the broken Ingenuity helicopter and its detached rotor blade
NASA’s Perseverance rover spots the broken Ingenuity helicopter and its detached rotor blade. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS)

The detached rotor blade has been found about 49 feet (15 meters) west of the helicopter’s location on Mars (just left of center in the image).

After almost three years of flight on Mars, NASA announced on January 25, 2024, that the Ingenuity Mars helicopter mission has come to an end because it is no longer capable of flight.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter experienced a crash landing on January 18, 2024, during the descent of its 72nd flight. It was the last and final flight of the helicopter on Mars.

NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) team, which managed the helicopter, found that at least one of the helicopter’s rotor blades was damaged during the emergency landing on its 72nd flight.

Related article: NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter mission ends due to damage of rotor blade on its last flight 
Damaged rotor blade of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured the shadow of its damaged rotor blade after the 72nd flight. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) 

At that time the Ingenuity helicopter also took pictures of its own damaged rotor blade.

But it was not known at that time that the other rotor blade of the helicopter was completely detached. The companion rover of the Ingenuity helicopter, Perseverance, which is still operating on Mars, spotted the broken Ingenuity helicopter and its detached rotor blade on February 24, 2024.

Zoomed image of the broken Ingenuity helicopter and its detached rotor blade
Zoomed image of the broken Ingenuity helicopter and its detached rotor blade. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS)

The Ingenuity Mars helicopter was in the featureless terrain of the Jezero Crater of Mars during its 72nd flight. NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) team believes that the sandy, relatively featureless terrain was likely the root cause of this crash landing.

The helicopter’s black-and-white navigation camera tracked its motion by looking at rocks, boulders on the Martian surface. However, during its 72nd flight, the navigation camera could not track its altitude and velocity due to featureless terrain.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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