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Some weird debris just fell off the Mars helicopter Ingenuity

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity has managed to get through a hard winter and is back again to flying, recently completing its 33rd flight because it landed on Mars combined with the Perseverance rover in February 2021. The helicopter has been making gradually further flights because it returned into operations carrying out a break from June to August, completing flight 31 on September 6, accompanied by flight 32 on September 17 and flight 33 on September 24.

For flight 33 the helicopter covered over 111 meters in only under one minute, with the helicopter heading toward the Jezero river delta to rejoin the Perseverance rover.

On the weekend, #MarsHelicopter successfully completed Flight 33! The rotorcraft reached an altitude of 10 meters (33 ft) and traveled 111.24 meters (365 ft) in 55.2 seconds. In the event that you look closely as of this image, youll see Ingenuitys leg and tiny shadow. pic.twitter.com/4UwPs1bAcV

— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) September 27, 2022

There is an urgent passenger along for section of this flight though, as a bit of unknown debris got itself caught round the helicopters leg. The foreign object debris (FOD) doesnt appear to be from the helicopter, so its currently a mystery what it really is manufactured from and what its source could possibly be.

The image below was taken by the helicopters navigation camera, called Navcam. It is possible to nearly see each one of the helicopters top legs in the corner of the image, which are two of the four legs that the helicopter sits on when it’s on the floor. Mounted on the leg on the proper is really a small little bit of debris, which looks almost like it may be plastic, although NASA says it isn’t sure what the debris is or where it originated from.

A small piece of foreign object debris (FOD) is seen in footage from the navigation camera of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 33rd flight on Mars on Sept 24, 2022. The FOD is seen attached to one of the rotorcraft's landing legs, then drifting away.
A little little bit of foreign object debris (FOD) sometimes appears in footage from the navigation camera of NASAs Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 33rd flight on Mars on Sept 24, 2022. The FOD sometimes appears attached to among the rotorcrafts landing legs, then drifting away. NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA confirmed that little bit of debris hadnt been visible through the helicopters previous flight, Flight 32, so that it appears to have been a recently available addition. Fortunately, the debris detached itself from the helicopters leg and floated away back again to the surface through the flight. You can view the entire footage showing the debris falling on the NASA Ingenuity website.

All telemetry from the flight and a post-flight search and transfer are nominal and show no indication of vehicle damage, NASA wrote. The Ingenuity and Perseverance Mars 2020 teams will work to discern the foundation of the debris.

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