January 26, 2022

NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Experiences A Hiccup Throughout Flight On Purple Planet

ingenuity mars

NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity took flight for the seventeenth time, however one thing impeded its knowledge switch to Mars Perseverance throughout its last descent section. The lack of knowledge switch has NASA holding off on its subsequent flight whereas it waits for an replace on the scenario.

Ingenuity made the journey to Mars hooked up to the stomach of the Perseverance rover. As soon as it made it to the purple planet, it needed to safely detach itself earlier than it might make its inaugural flight on April 19, 2021 because it flew for a complete of 39.1 seconds at a peak of round 3 meters. Since then the Mars helicopter has made 16 extra profitable flights, together with its newest one. It’s the helicopter’s newest ascent on December fifth that has NASA ready on extra knowledge earlier than giving the go-ahead for its subsequent airborne mission.

After finishing its deliberate 614-foot (187 meters) flight to the northeast, one thing brought on a lack of radio communication between Ingenuity and the Perseverance Mars rover through the helicopter’s last descent. About quarter-hour later, Perseverance acquired a number of packets of further Ingenuity telemetry suggesting that the flight electronics and battery have been wholesome.

All indicators pointed to the flight being a hit and that the lack of knowledge was on account of a difficulty attributable to a difficult radio configuration between Perseverance and Ingenuity. Nonetheless, this has led NASA to postpone any future flights till it is ready to obtain the lacking knowledge so it will possibly affirm the car’s well being. In a weblog publish from December ninth, NASA indicated that the information switch is predicted to happen at any time within the subsequent few days.

perseverance mars

Within the image above a inexperienced dot towards the highest middle of body signifies the situation of the Mars Helicopter Base Station antenna on Perseverance. That is the place radio alerts are despatched and acquired from Ingenuity. The purple line represents the road of sight to the rotorcraft through the last moments of Flight 17. In the back of the rover and on the fitting, the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) angles above the antenna and impedes direct communications between the rover and helicopter because it descended towards the floor of the purple planet.

A radio’s sign power depends upon how clear the trail, or line-of-sight (LOS), is between the transmitter and the receiver antennas. The LOS will be disrupted by terrain, such because the helicopter touchdown in a melancholy, or it may be obstructed by objects on Perseverance. Through the flight, Ingenuity was tasked with flying to a touchdown website which positioned a 13-foot (4 meter) hill known as “Bras” within the LOS between the 2 antennas, however with a cruise altitude of 33-feet Bras introduced little obstruction to the radio sign. It was through the helicopter’s descent, nonetheless, that it appears each the terrain and MMRTG brought on a lack of LOS between Perseverance and Ingenuity.

flight path

NASA believes that the flight was a hit, as a result of there may be nothing in what it has seen up up to now to counsel in any other case. The knowledge it acquired simply quarter-hour after the flight was accomplished confirmed the battery was nonetheless being charged by its photo voltaic array. As of proper now the workforce is ready to obtain the remainder of the information earlier than making the following leg of Ingenuity’s journey again to “Octavia E. Butler” touchdown website. Flight 18 is predicted to occur within the subsequent two weeks.

As Ingenuity continues to fly farther and make extra daring flights, NASA absolutely expects to have extra cases the place knowledge will likely be impeded in a roundabout way. The groups monitoring the flights will do every part attainable to keep away from such a loss, however momentary lack of radio hyperlink is a pure a part of helicopter operations on Mars.

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