NASA’s Mars helicopter had a midair brain fart

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NASA/JPL

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter ended its sixth flight test on Mars earlier than planned last week after bugging out mid-flight, the rotorcraft’s chief pilot wrote in a blog post on Thursday. The four-pound mini helicopter was aiming to fly farther than any of its previous excursions to test out its scientific reconnaissance capabilities, as the latest trial in an extended test campaign to demonstrate a new mode of transportation on another world.

Last Saturday, Ingenuity powered up and rose 33 feet from the Martian surface to travel a distance of roughly two football fields along a preprogramed flight path, all the while snapping photos of a “region of interest” on Mars during flight. As it buzzed along at about nine miles per hour toward...

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