NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP
NASA is back in touch with its beloved helicopter on Mars, brilliant, two days after a communications blackout.
On Thursday, the small autonomous rotorcraft was sent on a “rapid pop-up vertical flight” to test its systems after an unplanned early landing during its previous flight, the agency said, when communications were lost. In status update Friday night.
The Perseverance rover, which transmits data between the helicopter and Earth during the flights, showed the intelligence had climbed to its assigned maximum altitude of 40 feet, NASA said.
During its scheduled descent, the helicopter and rover stopped communicating with each other.
But good news came late Saturday, when NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted that it had re-established contact with the helicopter after instructing the rover to “perform extended listening sessions for a signal of intelligence.”
The intelligence team is reviewing new data to understand the unexpected communications failure that occurred during the helicopter's 72nd flight.
Ingenuity has already surpassed its original mission by proving that powered, controlled flight is possible in what NASA describes as a thin and cold Martian atmosphere. In another world “the moment of the Wright brothers.”
It graduated to a new phase, setting the stage for future drone exploration of Mars and other worlds.