Unexpected “passenger” was on board Ingenuity

The Ingenuity Martian helicopter survived a difficult winter and returned to flying after a two-month break. The aircraft recently completed its 33rd flight after it landed on Mars with the Perseverance rover in February 2021. During the flight, Ingenuity overcame more than 111 meters in just under a minute, while the helicopter was heading to the Jezero River Delta to return to the rover. However, after the flight, it turned out that the helicopter had an unexpected passenger.

NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

Upon detailed examination, it turned out that a piece of Martian debris (foreign object debris, FOD) clung to one of the four landing pillars of the helicopter. Moreover, during the 32nd flight, nothing of the kind was noticed. The foreign object does not originate from Ingenuity or Perseverance, so it remains a mystery what it is made of and what is its source. 

Ingenuity Flight Animation

In the picture below, taken by a helicopter navigation camera called Navcam, on the right you can see a strange object that looks like a piece of plastic bag. NASA cannot yet explain what kind of debris it is and where they came from. Fortunately, during the flight, the fragment fell behind the support of the helicopter and crashed to the surface. 

A small piece of a foreign object was seen on the record of the navigation camera of the NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 33rd flight on September 24, 2022. It can be seen that it caught on one of the landing pillars of the helicopter. NASA/JPL-Caltech

“All telemetry from the flight, post-flight search and transmission is nominal and shows no signs of damage to the vehicle. The Ingenuity and Perseverance Mars 2020 teams are working to determine the source of the debris,” NASA said.

Earlier we reported on how Ingenuity recorded an amazing video of an upcoming flight over Mars.

According to NASA

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