"Thank you, Ingenuity."

Adios Little Buddy

Somewhere in a cold corner of Mars, a little helicopter from another world bedded down for its final mission: send its last transmission of data back to Earth and then settle down to become a silent sentry on the Red Planet.

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which became the first ever aircraft piloted on another planet back in 2021, has its flying days behind it after a crash in January and will now be put to use as a stationary monitor to take pictures of its surroundings and collect temperature data for any future Mars explorers who may happen to drop by, according to the space agency.

On Tuesday, staff monitored its final link with the helicopter, a transmission of data from Ingenuity to researchers and engineers back on Earth. The milestone comes after the helicopter's almost three-year run exploring the planet, with 1,000 Martian days and a total of 72 flights under its belt.

"Thank you, Ingenuity, for inspiring a small group of people to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds at the frontiers of space," said NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer and Ingenuity's project manager Teddy Tzanetos.

Back Later

The little copter, which looks like a small toaster with four whirling blades and four spider-like legs, was only meant to last a month and perform a handful of missions, but ended up wildly exceeding its creators' expectations.

Working with NASA's Mars rover Perseverance, it was tasked with doing recon work while also testing its flight ability in the thin and cold atmosphere of Mars — not to mention performing in gravity significantly lower than what we're used to on Earth.

It looked to be doing so well until it seemingly crashed in January, landing wrong in the red Martian dirt and snapping off one of its rotor blades. But many of its components are still workable after the crash, ensuring its continued use as a monitor to collect surrounding data for any future explorers.

More on NASA: Image Shows Mars Helicopter With Blade Completely Snapped Off

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