Mars Helicopter Mission May Be Saved By JPL Software Update – About Your Online Magazine


PASADENA, CA – NASA officials said on Monday that they hope a software update will resolve a technical flaw that delayed the planned historic flight of a small helicopter on Mars, but the correction will take some time and officials said a new date flight we hope to be set next week.

The 4-pound helicopter called Ingenuity was designed and built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. He was scheduled to make his first historic flight – the first in another world – on Sunday, but the mission was delayed due to a problem that occurred during a rotation test of its rotors.

“During the high-speed rotation test, the sequence ended earlier during the transition from` preflight ‘to `flight’ mode,” tweeted mission managers on Saturday. “The helicopter is safe and healthy. The team is diagnosing the problem.”

On Monday, the helicopter’s management team “identified a software solution” to the problem, according to NASA.

“Over the weekend, the team considered and tested several potential solutions to this problem, concluding that minor modifications and reinstallations of Ingenuity’s flight control software are the most robust way forward,” according to a blog post from NASA. “This software update will modify the process by which the two flight controllers initialize, allowing hardware and software to safely transition to flight status.”

The software update was being tested at JPL on Tuesday and will be tested again on Wednesday. NASA officials said that the validation of the software and the uplink for the helicopter will take some time. Once completed, another high-speed rotation test will be performed on the rotors. If the test is successful, scheduling the flight attempt will begin.

“Our best estimate of a planned flight date is fluid now, but we are working to reach those milestones and we are going to set a flight date next week,” according to NASA. “We are confident in the team’s ability to overcome this challenge and prepare for Ingenuity’s historic first engine-controlled flight on another planet.”

The helicopter’s first flight, which “remains healthy on the surface of Mars”, should be short. The helicopter must take off at a height of about 10 feet, where it will hover for 30 seconds and then return to the surface of the planet.

Ingenuity has no scientific instrumentation on board. It is strictly a demonstration mission to determine the feasibility of operating such a ship on other planets.

The helicopter was taken to Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which will train its cameras in Ingenuity to record the flight when it occurs.

City news service

Paula Fonseca