NASA’s Inventive Mars helicopter was scheduled to begin its most daring flight on Thursday. But it failed to raise it, so NASA plans to try again on Friday.
Ingenuity went down in history when it flew for the first time on April 19. The 10-foot hovercraft that marked the first controlled, forceful flight to another planet. Since then, the four-pound drone has completed two more flights, flying farther and faster each time.
Ingenuity was in good shape after his last flight, during which he walked about 330 feet և. It was planned to try an even more ambitious adventure on Thursday. A flight of 117 seconds, during which the small drone had to reach a record speed of 3.5 m / s. The plan was for the helicopter to rise 16 feet into the air, flying about 436 feet south և on the way to photos from the surface of Mars. Then it had to hover for more photos, turn around, fly back to its original landing place.
But the ingenious rotor blades do not raise it at all.
The culprit is probably a software problem that first appeared in a high-speed rotation test before the first flight of the raft. That test failed because Ingenuity’s flight computer was unable to switch from “pre-flight” to “flight” mode. Within days, NASA engineers solved the problem with a quick redesign of the software.
But those engineers decided that their correction would allow the helicopter to pass only 85% of the time in flight mode. Inventive radiation data on Thursday showed it could not go into flight mode, so it could hit one in 15% of cases where the software patch does not work.
“Today’s delay is in line with that expectation, it does not hinder further flights,” said NASA.
According to the agency, the helicopter is “safe, healthy”, it will try its fourth flight on Friday, 10 am. 46. NASA engineers expect to receive the first experiment about three hours after that experiment.
The ingenious team has only one week left to make two flights that will take the car to its limits. During the fifth and final flight, Ingenuity controllers plan to push the helicopter as fast as possible. In the process, they expect ingenuity to decline.
“We really want to take rotorcard flight to the border, to really learn, to get information from it,” Mimmy Aung, head of the Inventive program, told reporters last week.
“That information is extremely important,” he added. “It simply came to our notice then. You know, there are “unknowns” to find this that we can not model. And we really want to know what the boundaries are. In this way, we will cross the border very deliberately. “
The dream of NASA space drones
Ingenious flights are experimental, just to test what rotor technology can do on Mars. So NASA expected that some experiments might fail. Everything is interested in data collection to inform the development of helicopter missions on other planets, which can do all kinds of science: reconnaissance, which the raft mission can not.
“We know that failure in this type of scenario is more likely, we feel good about it because of the great potential for success,” NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Uc Urbuchen told Insider.
Inventive space helicopters can one day explore complex terrain, explore large areas faster than rovers can, and even spy on astronauts.
Such drones could fly “over canyons, down canyons, up into mountains,” Osh Ravich, mechanical leader of NASA’s Reactive Motion Laboratory, told Insider. “Even rocky terrain is quite inaccessible to rocks, but much more easily accessed by rotary equipment.”
NASA already has one helicopter delivered at the development stage. The rotation called Dragonfly is going to launch on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2027. It aims to investigate whether a world rich in methane can have alien lives.
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