Before it was damaged and unable to fly again, NASA Mars helicopter captured a stunning vista of the Red Planet.
The ingenuity helicopter – a small and experimental craft – captured a sprawling view of the Martian desert.
The vista of sprawling and smooth sand dunes captured during the craft’s 70th flight really lives up to the ‘Red Planet’ moniker.
That was one of its last trips on 22 December, 2023 – its final flight would be less than a month later.
Rock-strewn ridges and mountains can be seen in the distance, with the end of a helicopter leg just visible in the upper left corner.
The NASA helicopter also sent back images of otherworldly wreckage on the surface of Mars.
During its 72nd flight, it was left with at least one severely broken rotor.
It’s thought by the minds at NASA that a tip potentially snapped off as it crashed into rocky Martian terrain below.
Seems it’s not just astronauts who come back from space as ‘different people’.
Ironically it’s thought that the picturesque, flowing Martian dunes were the cause of the craft’s ultimate demise – ending its three-year extraterrestrial mission.
While NASA’s car-sized rover makes discoveries from the ground, from the air, the Ingenuity helicopter’s software tracked the movement of rocks and other objects to navigate.
However, the stunning, smooth and sandy terrain was largely ‘featureless’, as NASA explained.
“The more featureless the terrain is, the harder it is for Ingenuity to successfully navigate across it,” the space agency said.
“The team believes that the relatively featureless terrain in this region was likely the root cause of the anomalous landing.”
The historic Ingenuity helicopter was the first craft to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet.
The four-foot-long rotor craft proved NASA engineers’ theory: flight is possible on Mars.
While the craft was only expected to take to the Martian skies five times, it took a massive 72 trips.
“That remarkable helicopter flew higher and farther than we ever imagined and helped NASA do what we do best – make the impossible, possible,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said.
This has paved the way for the future exploration of Mars with its extremely thin atmosphere and the search for – what else – Martians.
Alien life doesn’t feel like too much of a reach after after this NASA astronaut claimed he saw something ‘alien-like’ while in space.
NASA have even more ambitious missions in the pipeline, however, with a spacecraft set to ‘touch’ the sun at staggering speed this year.