NASA reschedules the first ingenious flight to Mars for April 19

NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen here in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoom cameras aboard the Perseverance rover.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen here in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoom cameras aboard the Perseverance rover.
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

NASA has given an eager public a new date for the first controlled flight of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars: Monday, April 19. This would be the third time the Ingenuity flight has been rescheduled to date, and hopefully it could be the real deal.

On saturday space agency announced that Ingenuity, his tiny 4-pound (1.8 kg) helicopter, would attempt to make its maiden flight on Monday at approximately 3:30 am ET. The new date follows two attempts that were delayed due to pre-flight checks and a scripting issue that arose. during a high speed spin test of its rotors on April 9. The test ended earlier that day due to the expiration of the “watchdog” timer while attempting to transition the flight computer from pre-flight flight mode, NASA explained.

Ingenuity’s watchdog timer monitors the helicopter script and alerts the system in the event of a potential problem. If there is a problem, the watchdog timer “helps the system stay safe” by not continuing. Completing the gyro test is an important milestone on the path to Ingenuity flight.

Ingenuity’s flight team had been working on a solution to this problem in recent days. One involved adding some commands to the helicopter flight sequence, while the other consisted of a modification and reinstallation of the helicopter. flight control software. Friday wit carried out successfully the full speed turning test that he had failed to complete on April 9.

To perform the roll test, the team used the flight sequence solution. The approach was extensively tested on both Earth and Mars, the flight team said in a status update on Friday, and it was done without jeopardizing the safety of Ingenuity, which cost $ 80 million and took years to develop. However, the team said they were still undecided about which solution to adopt for the first Ingenuity flight.

“The software exchange is a simple solution to a known problem,” the team wrote. “But it will take a little longer to do and it is a software modification that has been stable and unchanged for almost two years. Validation and testing have taken several days, and transferring and uploading these new files will take several more. ”

In the status update, the team said it would have a meeting on Friday to discuss both solutions and determine which one. I would adopt for the first Ingenuity flight. The team did not guarantee on Friday that would agree on a new flight date, but judging by NASA’s announcement, most likely it did.

The announcement did not reveal what solution the team had ultimately adopted, although we will surely find out in the next few days.

If Ingenuity succeeds, it will be the first time that a space agency has carried out an engine controlled flight on another planet. The tiny helicopter will attempt up to five test flights within a window of 30 Martian suns, or 31 Earth days. Using its downward-facing camera, it will take photos during its test flight, and the team is expected to receive grainy black-and-white images at first and higher resolution images later.

During a previous press conference On the Ingenuity flight, NASA officials said the Perseverance rover, which carried Ingenuity to Mars in its belly, will also try to capture images of its friend helicopter’s first flight.

NASA will begin hosting a live broadcast at 6:15 am ET on Monday, which is when the team will receive data from Ingenuity and find out if its first flight was successful. You can watch the live broadcast at Youtube below, as well as NASA’s. app, website, Y Facebook page. Additionally, if the flight takes place, NASA will hold a post-flight briefing at 2pm ET.


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