Perseverance Gives Us One Last Look at the Damaged Ingenuity Helicopter

Well I consider that a success; the first aircraft on another world surpassed all expectations. Ingenuity, the helicopter that has been buzzing around on Mars has finally reached the end of its life after a total of 72 flights on the red planet. In a wonderful piece of computer imagery, Simeon Schmauß took a number of images of Ingeniuty from Perseverance and stiched them together into a mosaic and upscaled to provide a human eye view. 

The groundbreaking voyage of the Ingenuity helicopter commenced on February 18, 2021, upon its arrival on Mars. This journey was facilitated as part of the Mars 2020 mission, alongside the Perseverance rover. Ingenuity was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with collaborative efforts from AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, SolAero, and Lockheed Space. Its primary objective was straightforward: to showcase the technological capabilities required for flight operations on an extraterrestrial terrain.

Once configured for flight, it stood at a height of 0.49 meters with a rotor span of 1.2 meters. While this may appear substantial in comparison to drones on Earth, such dimensions were imperative for achieving flight on Mars. The thinner atmosphere necessitated larger rotors to generate the required lift. These rotors were designed to rotate at a speed of 2,400 revolutions per minute, with two separate drives enabling the clockwise and counterclockwise rotation of blade sets. Positioned atop the rotors was a solar panel for battery charging, alongside a wireless communication system and essential navigation sensors and cameras.

The first flight took place on 19th April and sadly the 72nd flight on the 18th January was to be its last. An emergency landing led to damage to one of the rotor blades rendering Ingeniuty grounded, permanently. 

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Left Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mast. This image was acquired on Feb. 4, 2024 (Sol 1052) at the local mean solar time of 13:05:37. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

One of the core principles of NASA is that the images and data they capture are all public domain and released for anyone to look at and work with. Taking six images from the right MastCam-Z of Perseverance, GeoVisual Design student Simeon Schmauß recreated the vista that a human visitor to Mars would have been greeted with. The image was even colour corrected to match our eyes and revealed Ingenuity’s final resting place among the rippling sands of Neretvav Vallis on Mars. 

The full resolution image really is incredible, testimony not only to the quality of the imaging platform on Perseverance but also to the processing skills of Schmauß. I found myself exploring the view for some time and even found myself transported to Mars (virtually of course) walking among the dunes on the Martian surface and coming across the plucky helicopter as it sat silently. Farewall Ingenuity, thank you for all the science and stunning images, you were an incredible helicoper and our first on another world. 

Source : Simeon Schmauß ‘X’ feed 

One Reply to “Perseverance Gives Us One Last Look at the Damaged Ingenuity Helicopter”

  1. It looks lonely out there.

    And while they don’t intend to, Perseverance couldn’t travel on the sand dunes. Hopefully they can get some idea of the failure mode anyway, to better guard the planned next generation of “Helicopters in SPAAACE!”

    Typo: “stiched” for stitched.

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