NASA to Reinstall Mars Helicopter’s Software, Flight Pushed to Next Week

Ingenuity Mars helicopter 1 photo
Photo: NASA
After spending almost two months in optimistic anticipation, those with a passion for space exploration feel increasingly disappointed. The most insane experiment since the Perseverance landing on Mars, the Ingenuity helicopter flight, is getting pushed further and further away due to an issue with the command sequence.
The helicopter was first scheduled to take off on April 11, but a watchdog timer expiration as NASA was trying to move the hardware from pre-flight to flight mode prevented that from happening.

The mishap occurred following a successful, low-rpm test conducted at the end of last week and at a time when NASA was trying to spin the helicopter’s blades faster. When finally getting around to lifting off from the surface in the Jezero Crate, the rotors will have to reach 2,537 rpm and allow the machine to get to an altitude of 10 feet (3 meters), where it should hover for 30 seconds.

Over the weekend, the agency announced it targets a new launch date on April 14, only to push that even further on Monday.

This time, there is no new date set for the flight. NASA only says it is working hard to make that happen sometime next week.

The agency’s engineers identified a command sequence issue in the helicopter, and the best way to fix it is to make minor modifications to the software and reinstall it on the Ingenuity. We’re told these operations are easy and fast, but the team needs days to review and validate the changes independently.

And for a good reason, as possibly the shape of the future space exploration efforts might depend on what the tiny machine does on the Red Planet.

In the meantime, as it awaits the fixes to the way its two flight controllers boot up, Ingenuity “continues to be healthy on the surface on Mars.”
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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