NASA and the European Space Agency have revised their plans to return samples from Mars, removing a rover and its lander from the effort and replacing them with helicopters modeled on Ingenuity.
After nearly a year of operations, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is still “as good as new” as it serves as a scout for the Perseverance rover.
NASA scientists and engineers are working to understand why the first sampling attempt by the Mars rover Perseverance failed to collect any material.
With four flights now complete, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter will transition from being strictly a technology demonstration to a test of its ability to work in cooperation with the Perseverance rover.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter performed its third flight on Mars April 25, setting it up for its final, and most challenging, tests.
The successful flight of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars paves the way for its use on future missions, agency officials said, but exactly when and how remain to be determined.
A small helicopter that hitched a ride on NASA’s Perseverance rover will attempt its first flight on Mars in early April, demonstrating technology that could be used on future missions.
While the primary focus of the Mars 2020 mission will be the search for evidence of past Martian life, the rover mission carries several other payloads that could support future robotic and human missions to the red planet.
On the eve of the landing of the rover Perseverance on Mars, scientists are looking ahead to the work it will do searching for evidence of past life on the planet and collecting samples for return to Earth.
NASA's Mars InSight lander is poised to make the ultimate field recording when Perseverance attempts its Feb. 18 landing. Politics could squelch an even better recording opportunity when China's Tianwen-1 lands this summer.