Due to a Software Glitch - NASA misses schedule of Mars Ingenuity Helicopter’s 4th Flight

NASA’s Mars Ingenuity helicopter misses the schedule of its 4th planned flight on Thursday, with the space agency accusing a software glitch and promising to try again the following day. NASA mentions in a statement that adding the rotorcraft was a failure while transitioning on “flight mode”. However, now the helicopter is secure and in good physical condition.

The crew intends to attempt the flight once more on Friday at 10:46 am Eastern Time (8:16 pm IST). This is with data likely back at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory about three hours later. The software problem is believed to be the same one that postponed Ingenuity’s maiden journey. It is the 1st powered flight on an alternative planet.

The reason was a malfunction in association with the aircraft’s “watchdog timer.” This alerts Ingenuity to prospective difficulties and hesitates its procedures if it thinks it detects a fault.

Engineers prepare a coding tweak that allows Ingenuity to surmount the difficulty and switch to flight mode accurately. However, estimates mention there was a 15 % probability it would not function on each flight attempt.

NASA says, “today’s interruption is in line with that belief and does not avert future flight.”

Details of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter are as follows:

  • Reaches Mars in February
  • Since then, it is under the belly of the Perseverance rover
  • Weight is 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms)
  • The helicopter has made 3 successful flights
  • The 3rd flight took place on Sunday which moves quicker and further than before
  • The flight witnesses its peak speed of 6.6 feet (two meters) per second
  • Helicopter covers a distance of 64 feet (50 meters)

Ingenuity’s flights are tough because of circumstances greatly different from Earth’s. Foremost among them a complex atmosphere that has fewer than 1% the density of our own. Which means it has to spin its rotors at 2,400 cycles per minute.

The Ingenuity technology presentation will end in early May to permit the Perseverance rover to come back to its core mission. The mission is to look for signs of past microbial life on Mars.

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