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Aeronautics Honors Ingenuity

NASA’s history-making Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, the first aircraft to fly within another planet’s atmosphere, is ending its mission at the Red Planet. Honored to play a part in the technology demonstrator’s success, NASA’s aeronautical innovators congratulates its agency colleagues and offers this special report in tribute.

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This image is an illustration of NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter flying on Mars.

The historic journey of Ingenuity, the first aircraft on another planet, has come to an end. 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

In April 2021, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first spacecraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another world. With 72 successful flights, Ingenuity has far surpassed its originally planned technology demonstration of up to five flights. On Jan. 18, Ingenuity flew for the final time on the Red Planet. Join Tiffany Morgan, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Deputy Director, and Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity Project Manager, as they discuss these historic flights and what they could mean for future extraterrestrial aerial exploration.
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Mars Helicopter Flight Log

The Mars Communications Team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has produced the definitive collection of everything you need to know about Ingenuity and its mission, including interactive graphics, downloadable posters, and the ability to send an electronic postcard to the Mars Helicopter team to say thanks! #ThanksIngenuity

Learn More about Mars Helicopter Flight Log
This image is an illustration of NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter flying on Mars.
Members of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter team stand next to the Collier Trophy during the Robert J. Collier Dinner in Washington on June 9, 2022.
Members of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter team stand next to the Collier Trophy during the Robert J. Collier Dinner in Washington on June 9, 2022. The team was awarded the 2021 Collier Trophy “for the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, thereby opening the skies of Mars and other worlds for future scientific discovery and exploration,” the award citation states. From left to right: Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity team lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Bob Balaram, Ingenuity emeritus chief engineer at JPL; MiMi Aung, former Ingenuity project manager at JPL; Bobby Braun, former director for Planetary Science at JPL; Larry James, deputy director at JPL; Håvard Grip, Ingenuity chief pilot at JPL. This historic trophy – which is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington – is awarded annually by the National Aeronautic Association “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.”

A New Home for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Prototype

The aerial prototype of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is seen here on Dec. 15, 2023, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steve F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. The prototype, which was the first to demonstrate it was possible to fly in a simulated Mars environment at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was donated to the museum on Jan. 26, one day after NASA officially announced the end of the helicopters mission at Mars following its grounding on the Red Planet after indications showed one or more of its rotor blades sustained damage.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter prototype sits on a round, gray surface. Sunlight glints off of one of its blades. The blades are stacked vertically on a thin column. Four thin legs with white tips are attached to the column. A bundle of wires protrudes from the helicopter and rests on the table.



Last Updated
Mar 08, 2024
Jim Banke