NASA has given an keen public a brand new date for the Ingenuity helicopter’s first managed flight on Mars: Monday, April 19. This is able to be the third time Ingenuity’s flight has been rescheduled so far, and with some luck, it is likely to be the actual deal.
On Saturday, the area company introduced that Ingenuity, its tiny 4-pound (1.8 kg) helicopter, would try and make its first flight on Monday at roughly 3:30 a.m. ET. The brand new date follows two makes an attempt that had been delayed as a result of preflight checks and a command sequence difficulty that got here up throughout a high-speed spin check of its rotors on April 9. That day, the check ended early as a result of a “watchdog” timer expiration whereas it was making an attempt to transition the flight pc from pre-flight to flight mode, NASA defined.
Ingenuity’s watchdog timer oversees the helicopter’s command sequence and alerts the system in case there are any potential points. If there’s a downside, the watchdog timer “helps the system stay safe” by not continuing. Finishing the spin check is a crucial milestone on Ingenuity’s path to flight.
Ingenuity’s flight workforce had been engaged on an answer to this downside in latest days. One concerned including just a few instructions to the helicopter’s flight sequence, whereas the opposite consisted of a modification and reinstallation of the helicopter’s flight management software program. On Friday, Ingenuity efficiently carried out the full-speed spin check it had been unable to finish on April 9.
To hold out the spin check, the workforce employed the flight sequence answer. The method was examined extensively on each Earth and Mars, the flight workforce mentioned in a standing replace on Friday, and was carried out with out jeopardizing the security of Ingenuity, which value $80 million and took years to develop. Nevertheless, the workforce affirmed that it was nonetheless undecided on which answer to undertake for Ingenuity’s first flight.
“The software swap is a straightforward fix to a known issue,” the workforce wrote. “But, it will take a bit longer to perform and is a modification to software that has remained stable and unchanged for close to two years. Validation and testing have taken several days, and transfer and loading of these new files will take several more.”
Within the standing replace, the workforce mentioned that it could have a gathering on Friday to investigate each options and decide which one it would undertake for Ingenuity’s first flight. The workforce didn’t assure on Friday that it would agree on a brand new flight date, however judging by NASA’s announcement, it very probably did.
The announcement didn’t reveal which answer the workforce had adopted in the long run, though we’ll certainly discover out over the following few days.
If Ingenuity is profitable, will probably be the primary time that any area company carries out powered managed flight on one other planet. The tiny helicopter will try and make as much as 5 check flights inside a window of 30 Martian sols, or 31 Earth days. Utilizing its downward-facing digital camera, it should take pictures throughout its check flight, with the workforce anticipated to obtain grainy black and white photos at first and higher-resolution photos in a while.
Throughout a earlier news convention on Ingenuity’s flight, NASA officers mentioned that the Perseverance rover, which carried Ingenuity to Mars on its stomach, may also try and seize photos of its helicopter buddy’s first flight.
NASA will start internet hosting a stay stream at 6:15 a.m. ET on Monday, which is when the workforce will obtain information from Ingenuity and discover out whether or not its first flight was profitable. You may watch the stay stream on YouTube under, in addition to on NASA’s app, web site, and Fb web page. Moreover, if the flight does happen, NASA will maintain a postflight briefing at 2 p.m. ET.