NASA re-establishes connection with its Martian helicopter

  • During its 72nd flight, NASA lost communication with its Ingenuity helicopter.
  • The cause of this loss in communication is unknown but on Saturday NASA said it had re-established communication with the helicopter.
  • NASA says it will analyse its data to determine why the communication breakdown happened.

Since 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover has been plodding away on the surface of Mars conducting science research and collecting rock samples with NASA hoping to collect these samples sometime in the future.

Along with the rover, NASA also sent a tiny helicopter to Mars christened Ingenuity. The helicopter served the dual purpose of scouting ahead for paths Perseverance could take as well as gather important data about flying on another planet.

Last week, on 18th January, Ingenuity set out on its 72nd flight with a view to checking the helicopter’s systems following an unplanned early landing during its 71st flight. Flight 72 was meant to last 32 seconds and reach an altitude of 12 metres, but wouldn’t travel horizontally. During the descent, however, a problem occurred.

According to NASA on X, formerly Twitter, communication between Ingenuity and Perseverance (which acts as a relay between Ingenuity and Earth) broke down as the helicopter was on its descent back to the ground.

NASA’s team spent the next few days analysing the data and thankfully, at the weekend it managed to re-establish a connection to its helicopter. After telling Perseverance to perform longer-duration listening sessions for Ingenuity’s signal, the problem appeared to have been resolved. NASA will now spend some time reviewing its data to better understand why the communication dropout happened.

At 72 flights, Ingenuity has been going for far longer than NASA intended it would. The helicopter was only meant to complete five flights over a 30-day period but here we are nearly three years and 72 flights later.

Together, Ingenuity and Perseverance have given researchers and scientists fantastic insight into the Martian atmosphere as well as its terrain. This includes testing of the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE). This experiment tested whether it would be possible to create oxygen on Mars to breathe and launch spacecraft. That experiment was a success, paving the way for future missions to the planet.

It’s good to see that both Ingenuity and Perseverance are still operational, let’s hope they don’t succumb to one of the violent, unending Martian storms.


About Author


Related News