back to article 72 flights later and a rotor blade short, Mars chopper loses its fight with physics

A little more light is being shed on the fate of NASA's Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, thanks to fresh images snapped by the Perseverance rover. After an expectation-busting 72 flights over almost three years, the helicopter was finally retired in January 2024 when NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) found rotor damage …

  1. SnailFerrous
    Joke

    Bird strike, obviously.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm glad i finshed lunch before reading your comment... as it stands, I don't need a new keyboard, and I don't need to clean my monitor...

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Red kite? Probably that's why they can't see them, cause the reddish wings...

    3. KarMann Silver badge
      Alien

      Nonsense. It's pilot error. It's always pilot error. Except when it's DNS....

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "nothing short of jaw-dropping"

    Par for the course for successful NASA missions.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: "nothing short of jaw-dropping"

      Many in NASA didn’t want the helicopter. It took the unignorable pressure from a Senator with the purse strings in his hands to get it included in the trip. It’s a tremendous success for him and for the engineers who did it, but it was not a glorious episode for some echelons in NASA who repeatedly tried to stop it happening, at least in the earlier days of planning this mission.

  3. ben kendim

    Why are you linking to Xshitter for photos instead of NASA or JPL???

    https://www.theregister.com/2024/02/26/nasa_ingenuity_rotor_damage/

    You all can't be bothered to see if NASA or JPL have imagery? You need to go to Musk for that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are you linking to Xshitter for photos instead of NASA or JPL???

      Er the raw images are from NASA, the link is https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/multimedia/raw-images/LRE_1072_0762099726_099ECM_N0501618SCAM02072_0010I9J

      The reprocessed ones where done by a student who doesn’t work for said organisation, as they aren’t official NASA images they won’t be posted on an official website.

      For copyright it is better to link images.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are you linking to Xshitter for photos instead of NASA or JPL???

      Why are you not RTFA ?

    3. sitta_europea Silver badge

      Re: Why are you linking to Xshitter for photos instead of NASA or JPL???

      Why are you linking to Xshitter for photos instead of NASA or JPL???

      Upvoted after Xshitter said "your browser is no longer supported, click here to install a better one"...

      How the fuck did the entire planet forget what HTML was for?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Why are you linking to Xshitter for photos instead of NASA or JPL???

        "How the fuck did the entire planet forget what HTML was for?"

        Marketing has bamboozled the GreatUnwashed into thinking glitter is a replacement for information ... and are now in the process of convincing the same ineducable masses into thinking one brand of glitter is better than any other brand of glitter, leading to a tragedy of the commons.

        It's quite sad, really (in the old meaning of sad).

      2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Why are you linking to Xshitter for photos instead of NASA or JPL???

        HTML is much harder to mometize.

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    Wait, hang on a mo...

    I know the JPL team is made of geniuses that managed to do something incredible with flying on another planet...

    ...but are you now telling me that their final flight managed to land correctly (like, the right way up!) with a freaking rotor missing? How the bloody hell did they pull that off?!?

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Wait, hang on a mo...

      Through a combination of Perseverence and Ingenuity, perhaps?

      I'll get my coat...

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Wait, hang on a mo...

      My guess - the rotors were damaged (if not visibly) on a(/the?) previous flight, and the tips failed during the flight, with the imbalance on the upper rotor causing loss of rotor. Since it was just a straight up and down... it could probably have dropped a fair way and survived.

      1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

        Re: Wait, hang on a mo...

        My thoughts are that a blade fatigued causing rotor imbalance and the fatigued blade damaged all the other blades before being hurled off at high speed. YouTube has videos of blade fatigue on wind turbines, one second it’s there, the next it isn’t and the turbine usually shakes itself to bits in another second or so.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Wait, hang on a mo...

      I blame the JPL. They're clearly not competent to do this job. They're the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, not the Electric Rotor Propulsion Laboratory for a reason you know.

      I managed to completely miss all the stories about the planning for the helicopter - so it was a brilliant surprise when I read about the successful landing and then bonus helicopter on another bloody planet. And then woohoo! Over 70 flights!

      Now we've had helicopters on Mars we need Ski-Doos on Enceladus and Europa (assuming we're allowed to land there). Also water slides on Venus? OK, the water would boil, but you can slide on molten lead can't you?

  5. andrewj

    At least it was bolted on, so no Boeing involved

  6. Philo T Farnsworth

    Thanks little copter. . .

    You did a great job. . . as did all the human engineers and scientists at JPL who built you, tested you, and helped you fly.

    Thanks for making this old nerd proud.

  7. kuiash
    Pint

    Godspeed little doodle

    EOF

  8. waldo kitty
    Black Helicopters

    plastics?

    guessing the blades were made of some sort of plastic? if yes, looks like plastic breaks down on Mars the same way it does on Earth... maybe a bit faster, though...

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: plastics?

      Well there's not a lot to stop solar radiation, not to mention that it can be "bloody brass monkeys" out there. Quite an arduous environment.

      Honestly, I'm surprised it was the rotor that went, and not dust in the spinny bits.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: plastics?

      "guessing the blades were made of some sort of plastic?"

      Carbon fiber laid over a foam core.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like