The Martian helicopter “Intelligence” will no longer fly

DThe Martian helicopter “Intelligence” can no longer fly. Images sent back to Earth this week show that one or more of the mini-helicopter's rotor blades were damaged during landing. The US space agency said NASA with Thursday. The “intelligence” is still upright and can communicate with the control center on Earth, but the helicopter can no longer fly. This means the helicopter's mission, originally thought to last only 30 days, has now ended after about three years on Mars.

“The historic journey of intelligence, the first flight to another planet, has come to an end,” said NASA President Bill Nelson. “This remarkable helicopter has flown further and further than we ever imagined, helping NASA do what we do best – make the impossible possible.”

Landing on Mars in 2021

“Intelligence” will land on Mars in February 2021 with the “Perseverance” rover, which will search for traces of ancient microbes on the planet and conduct research on the planet's climate and geology. Shortly after landing, the helicopter, powered by lithium-ion batteries and weighing about 1.8 kilograms, became the first aircraft to complete a flight on another planet. The helicopter completed a total of 72 flights, flying for a total of over two hours.

For its first flight, the mini-helicopter lifted off from the Martian surface at 6:34 a.m. CEST in April 2021, rose to an altitude of about three meters, and then hovered for about 30 seconds before landing again. In total, the flight lasted 39.1 seconds. NASA scientists were always designing new flight paths for “intelligence.”

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The helicopter had to endure extreme conditions on Mars: at night it was as cold as minus 90 degrees Celsius, which could easily mean a death sentence for batteries and electronics. Because of the thin atmosphere, which is only approximately one percent as dense as Earth's, the rotors of “Intelligence” had to accelerate to 2,537 revolutions per minute – many times more than helicopters on Earth. “Intelligence” drew power for this endeavor from its battery, which was fed by the sun's rays.

Even though Intelligence can no longer fly, the helicopter will affect the future of space travel, said NASA Administrator Teddy Tsanetos. “The first-ever Mars helicopter will shape the future of space exploration and inspire fleets of aircraft on Mars and other worlds for decades to come.”

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