NASA loses contact with the Ingenuity lander on Mars


NASA loses contact with the Ingenuity lander on Mars

NASA has lost contact with the small Ingenuity rover on Mars while it was making its 72nd flyby of the red planet, the US space agency said, noting that it is looking for a way to re-establish communication with it.

The helicopter, which looks like a large, unmanned aircraft, in 2021 became the first powered flying device to make a flight to another planet. It arrived on Mars with the Perseverance rover, which acts as an "intermediary," collecting Ingenuity's data and relaying it back to Earth.

Ingenuity reached an altitude of 12 meters on Thursday's flight, NASA explained. But during the descent process, communication between the helicopter and the rover was prematurely lost before landing. The teams responsible for the helicopter are "analyzing the available data and considering the next steps to restore communication", the US agency added.

This flight was made to check the helicopter's systems, as in the previous one it landed earlier than planned.

In a post on NASA's X to Jet Propulsion (JPL), which built the helicopter, it said the Perseverance rover cannot currently "see" Ingenuity, but is considering approaching the area for a "visual inspection".

NASA has also lost contact with the helicopter in the past, like last year when it didn't communicate with it for two months. However, this communication breakdown was expected.

Ingenuity, which weighs only 1.8 kilograms, was originally intended to make only five flights, but the mission exceeded all expectations. In total, he moved 17 kilometers and reached a height of 24 meters. Its longevity is remarkable, as it has to "survive" the cold Martian night and is heated only by its solar panels that charge its batteries during the day. Thus, he evolved into a permanent "companion" of the Perseverance rover, whose mission is to search for traces of life on Mars.