Science & Technology

Historic First Flight of Mars Helicopter Delayed by NASA – Here’s Why

In this illustration, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet’s surface as NASA’s Perseverance rover (partially visible on the left) rolls away. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Based on data from the Ingenuity Mars helicopter that arrived late Friday night, NASA has chosen to reschedule the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s first experimental flight to no earlier than April 14.

During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a “watchdog” timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode. The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter does a slow spin test of its blades, on April 8, 2021, the 48th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was captured by the Navigation Cameras on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed and worked as planned.

The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue. Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was captured by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on the following sol, April 8, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Back to top button