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NASA has re-established contact with its helicopter ;re on Mars

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NASA's Ingenuity helicopter arrived on Mars aboard the Perseverance rover in 2021. (File photo)

Agence France-Presse

NASA has reestablished contact with its small helicopter named Ingenuity on Mars, the space agency announced on Saturday, after an unexpected breakdown which had raises fears of the end of the machine.

The helicopter, which looks like a large drone, became in 2021 the first motorized device to fly on another planet.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">He arrived on Mars with the Perseverance rover, which serves as a relay to transmit data between the helicopter and Earth and whose mission is to look for traces of ancient life on Mars.

Communications between the helicopter and the rover were suddenly interrupted Thursday during Ingenuity's 72nd flight.

Good news today ;today, wrote NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), responsible for the machine, on Saturday at the end of the day on X (formerly Twitter).

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The agency said contact was eventually established with the helicopter by ordering Perseverance to conduct extended listening sessions to pick up the signal. #x27;Ingenuity.

The helicopter team is reviewing the new data to better understand the unexpected interruption of communications during Flight 72, it added.

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The Perseverance rover collects samples on Mars. (File photo)

NASA previously explained that Thursday's flight was intended to check the helicopter's systems, following a landing earlier than planned during the previous flight.

Ingenuity had reached an altitude of 12 meters, NASA explained in this message published Friday evening, but during its descent, communications between the helicopter and the rover ended earlier, before landing. /p>

On X, JPL said Friday that the Perseverance rover could not see Ingenuity, but that its teams might consider driving closer for a visual inspection .

NASA has temporarily lost contact with the helicopter in the past, including for a long period of about two months last year.

Ingenuity, which weighs only 1.8 kg, was originally supposed to take off only five times, but the mission exceeded all expectations.

In total, the helicopter traveled some 17 kilometers, and flew up to an altitude of 24 meters.

Its longevity is remarkable, knowing that it must survive freezing Martian nights, warming itself thanks to solar panels charging its batteries during the day.

Working with Perseverance, he acted as an aerial scout to help his wheeled companion search for possible signs of ancient microbial life.< /p>

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