NASA Postpones Mars Ingenuity Helicopter’s Fourth Flight Due to Software Glitch

"The helicopter is safe and in good health," said NASA in a statement.

NASA Postpones Mars Ingenuity Helicopter’s Fourth Flight Due to Software Glitch

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera

Highlights
  • The reason was a glitch associated with the aircraft's "watchdog timer"
  • Ingenuity's flights are challenging due different conditions from Earth's
  • The Ingenuity technology demonstration will end in early May

NASA's Mars Ingenuity helicopter missed its fourth scheduled flight on Thursday, with the space agency blaming a software glitch and vowing to try again the next day.

"The helicopter is safe and in good health," said a statement, adding the rotorcraft had failed to transition to "flight mode." 

The team plans to attempt the flight once more on Friday at 10:46am Eastern Time (8:16pm IST) with data expected back at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory around three hours later.

The software issue is thought to be the same one that delayed Ingenuity's maiden voyage, the first powered flight on another planet. Initially scheduled for April 11, the historic feat occurred April 19.

The reason was a glitch associated with the aircraft's "watchdog timer," which alerts Ingenuity to potential problems and pauses its processes if it thinks it has detected an error.

Engineers made a coding tweak that allowed Ingenuity to overcome the problem and transition to flight mode correctly - but estimated there was a 15 percent chance it would not work on each flight attempt.

"Today's delay is in line with that expectation and does not prevent future flight," NASA said.

Since reaching Mars in February under the belly of the Perseverance rover, the four-pound (1.8 kilograms) helicopter has made three successful flights.

The last, which took place Sunday, saw it move faster and further than ever before, with a peak speed of 6.6 feet (two metres) per second. It covered 64 feet (50 metres) of distance.

Ingenuity's flights are challenging because of conditions vastly different from Earth's - foremost among them a rarefied atmosphere that has less than one percent the density of our own and means it has to spin its rotors at 2,400 revolutions per minute.

The Ingenuity technology demonstration will end in early May to allow the Perseverance rover to return to its main task: searching for signs of past microbial life on Mars.


We dive into all things Apple — iPad Pro, iMac, Apple TV 4K, and AirTag — this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.
Comments

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Further reading: NASA, Mars, Ingenuity
Twitter Warns of Rising Costs, Slow User Growth as Pandemic Boost Fizzles; Meets Revenue Expectations

Related Stories

Share on Facebook Tweet Snapchat Share Reddit Comment
 
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

© Copyright Red Pixels Ventures Limited 2021. All rights reserved.
Listen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com