There’s a fix for what ails the Mars helicopter’s software

The helicopter returned knowledge to mission groups on Earth late Friday night that caused NASA to reschedule the first flight. Ingenuity performed a high-speed take a look at of its rotors Friday, however the command sequence ended early because of a watchdog timer that expired.

This early finish of the take a look at occurred when the helicopter was making an attempt to shift the flight laptop from preflight into flight mode.

The helicopter stays wholesome and is sending again all of its knowledge. Over the weekend, the Ingenuity group examined a multitude of options. They decided that modifying and reinstalling the helicopter’s flight management software is the greatest method to fix the subject.

The software fix will change the means the helicopter’s two flight controllers begin up. This ought to ease the transition from preflight to flight for each the {hardware} and software.

The Ingenuity group is reviewing these software modifications and utilizing testbeds to validate them at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which manages the mission.

Multiple steps have to occur now to make sure this replace goes via forward of Ingenuity’s first flight.

Once the software resolution is developed and has been examined and authorised, then it must be loaded to the Perseverance rover, which acts as a base station for Ingenuity. The helicopter will then boot up the new software.

Then, the high-speed take a look at of the rotors will have to be rescheduled, in addition to the first flight.

All of those steps will take time, in accordance with the mission group.

“Our best estimate of a targeted flight date is fluid right now, but we are working toward achieving these milestones and will set a flight date next week,” in accordance with an update from NASA. “We are confident in the team’s ability to work through this challenge and prepare for Ingenuity’s historic first controlled powered flight on another planet.”
Ingenuity Mars helicopter: The historic journey to fly on another planet

Fortunately, Ingenuity’s energy, thermal management and communications are nonetheless functioning usually.

The helicopter is a know-how demonstration, which means that it is an experiment to check out ideas, so these challenges are anticipated, NASA officers stated. It additionally means the Ingenuity group is being deliberate with every step main as much as the first powered, managed flight on one other planet.

Meanwhile, the Perseverance rover is observing its environment, taking new pictures and making ready a take a look at of its MOXIE instrument — which can be a know-how demonstration.

MOXIE, or the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, will convert Mars’ plentiful carbon dioxide into oxygen.

The small MOXIE experiment will change on and convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for a couple of hours each month or two of the mission, utilizing about a day’s price of vitality on the rover. It will solely produce about 10 grams of oxygen an hour — sufficient for half of a median measurement grownup.

Mars Curiosity rover takes selfie with 'Mont Mercou'

The MOXIE group will apply classes discovered for creating a bigger and extra highly effective system for a manned mission. Astronauts might someday use this oxygen on Mars for life help techniques in addition to producing gasoline.

When Ingenuity is ready to fly on Mars for the first time, the 4-pound helicopter will fly for about 40 seconds complete. The helicopter will spin up its two 4-foot blades, stand up 10 ft (3 meters) in the air, hover, make a flip, take a photograph, and contact again down on Mars.

If this primary flight is profitable, Ingenuity might fly as much as 4 extra instances in the weeks after.

The little helicopter has checked off a number of milestones to this point, like wiggling its blades and surviving the freezing cold nights on Mars.

Now, it must autonomously fly via the skinny Martian environment, with no assist from its groups on Earth. Radio indicators take quarter-hour and 27 seconds to cross the present hole between Earth and Mars, which spans 173 million miles (278.4 million kilometers).

Perseverance shall be parked at an overlook 215 ft (65 meters) away from the helicopter so it may possibly safely watch the flight and seize pictures and movies.

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