After a short period of worrying silence, NASA said on Saturday night that it was able to regain contact with the Ingenuity helicopter. The autonomous aircraft unexpectedly ceased communications with the Perseverance rover, which relays all transmissions between Ingenuity and Earth, on Thursday during its 72nd flight on Mars. It had already been acting up prior to this, having cut its previous flight short for an unknown reason, and NASA intended to do a systems check during the latest ascent.
Good news today: We've reestablished contact with the #MarsHelicopter after instructing @NASAPersevere to perform long-duration listening sessions for Ingenuity’s signal.
The team is reviewing the new data to better understand the unexpected comms dropout during Flight 72. https://t.co/KvCVwhZ5Rk
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) January 21, 2024
The space agency said in an update posted on X that it’s now reviewing the data from Ingenuity to understand what happened. Perseverance picked up its signal after the team instructed it to perform “long-duration listening sessions.” Ingenuity has experienced blackouts before, as recently as last year, and was able to return to flight. But it’s too early to say if that will be the case this time. The mini helicopter is already running well past the original timeline of its mission.