Ingenuity was only meant to fly five times. The helicopter has flown 28 times since its first flight in April 2021. Depending on dust levels and the schedule of the rover Perseverance, that flight could happen as soon as this week. It is not known if the helicopter will survive the coming Martian winter.

This is Ingenuity's first winter since the helicopter is in the northern hemisphere. Dust storms could become more frequent as the days get shorter and nights get longer as the summer progresses. The solar panels are mounted above the helicopter's twin 4-foot rotors. Dust on solar panels spelled the end of operations for NASA's InSight Mars lander, and the effects of cold on electronics is thought to have played a part in the end of the Opportunity and Spirit Mars rover missions.

Dave Lavery, NASA's program executive for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, told WIRED that they believe it's survivable. Teddy Tzanetos wrote in a NASA post that each sol could be Ingenuity's last.

A decline in battery life caused Ingenuity to lose contact with Earth last month. NASA reestablished contact with Ingenuity after two days, but due to battery levels falling below 70 percent and persistently lower temperatures, Ingenuity will suspend use of onboard heaters at night. The battery power shortage and communications outage caused the temperature to fall to -40, which is when the heat kicks in. The possibility of damage to electronics inside the helicopter can increase during the Martian winter when the outdoor temperatures plummet to - 112.

NASA had to uplink a software patch and rely on another sensor to govern Ingenuity after a sensor failure on Monday.

Dust storms have an impact. A study published in May by a team at the University of Houston looked at data from NASA sensors over the course of four Martian years and found that warm weather in the south increases the likelihood of massive dust storms. As the north approaches the winter solstice, the chance of severe storms decreases. The study is global and doesn't take into account any specific region. The helicopter is in the Jezero crater, which has different conditions than the rest of the surface.

It is difficult to say if more dust storms are on the way. It is difficult to give a clear picture of the radiation budget in the Jezero crater.

The team will focus on transferring data like flight performance logs and high-definition images from the last eight flights as Ingenuity stops normal flight activity. NASA predicts that solar energy levels will rebound to a level that will allow normal activity to resume this fall. By September or October, if Ingenuity is able to regain the ability to heat its systems at night, it could resume regular flight operations, scouting potential places for the Perseverance rover to stashed a collection of rock and soil samples.