Ingenuity helicopter’s first flight to Mars delayed

Mars Perseverance rover takes selfie photo with Ingenuity helicopter

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The helicopter returned data to mission teams on Earth on Friday evening, prompting NASA to postpone the first flight. The team reports that the helicopter remains safe and healthy and shares all of its data.

Ingenuity carried out a high-speed test of its rotors on Friday. During this test, the command sequence terminated prematurely due to an expired watchdog timer.

This premature termination of the test occurred when the helicopter attempted to switch the flight computer from pre-flight mode to flight mode.

The timer monitors the command sequence, and if any issues arise, it alerts the system and maintains the safety of the helicopter by stopping until the issue can be resolved.

In this case, the timer did exactly what it was supposed to do, according to the agency.
Meanwhile, the helicopter team on Earth is examining the data to determine the problem that stopped the test. After this review, the high speed testing of the helicopter rotors will be postponed.

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When Ingenuity is able to fly to Mars for the first time, the 4-pound helicopter will fly for approximately 40 seconds in total. The helicopter will spin its two 4-foot blades, rise 3 meters in the air, hover, make a turn, take a photo and return to Mars.

If that first flight is successful, Ingenuity could fly up to four more times this month.

The little helicopter has gone through several stages so far, such as wiggling its blades and surviving the freezing nights of Mars.

Now he must fly autonomously through the thin Martian atmosphere, without the help of his teams on Earth. Radio signals take 15 minutes and 27 seconds to cross the current gap between Earth and Mars, which stretches 173 million miles (278.4 million kilometers).

The Perseverance rover, which helps the helicopter and its Earth mission team communicate with each other, will receive flight instructions from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The rover will then send these plans to the helicopter. Perseverance will be parked at a vantage point 215 feet (65 meters) from the helicopter so that it can safely watch the flight and capture images and video.

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