NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity’s historic flight delayed

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is scheduled to raise off no ahead of April 14 within the first-ever try at powered, managed flight on one other planet, a delay from its preliminary deliberate launch date.

Whereas lift-off was initially focused for Sunday, April 11, the company introduced the delay on Saturday afternoon. 


In a launch, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) defined that the choice was made primarily based on information that arrived late Friday night time.

“Throughout a high-speed spin take a look at of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the take a look at ended early attributable to a ‘watchdog’ timer expiration. This occurred because it was attempting to transition the flight laptop from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode,” they defined. “The helicopter is secure and wholesome and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth.”

The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts to any potential issues. It additionally helps the system keep secure by not continuing if a difficulty is noticed.

“The helicopter workforce is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and perceive the difficulty. Following that, they are going to reschedule the full-speed take a look at,” they mentioned.

In a pre-flight information convention on Friday, representatives from each JPL Ingenuity and Perseverance Mars rover groups vocalized their pleasure for the historic occasion. 

Thomas Zurbuchen, an affiliate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, mentioned a selfie picture taken of the rover and rotorcraft confirmed the workforce was “prepared” and that the flight would “actually change the trajectory of what is potential” in house exploration

​​NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen right here about 13 ft (3.9 meters) from the rover. This picture was taken by the WASTON digicam on the rover’s robotic arm on April 6, 2021, the forty sixth Martian day, or sol, of the mission.Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Ingenuity Challenge Supervisor MiMi Aung gave an replace on Ingenuity’s pre-flight progress, noting that the autonomous helicopter had been efficiently recharging its solar-powered battery and speaking with Perseverance.

She mentioned the workforce had totally confirmed it has sufficient vitality and energy to carry out the flight take a look at and that they’d examined thermal fashions, turned on sensors and computer systems and completed testing rotor blade operation.

One ultimate checkout take a look at to spin Ingenuity’s rotors at full pace to the flight RPM (revolutions per minute) was scheduled for Friday and after that they might be “set to go.” 

“And, we’ll take a look at, show and be taught no matter what the result is on this first try,” mentioned Aung.

The entire flight will final for round 40 seconds. If all ultimate checks and atmospheric situations look good above the Jezero Crater flight zone, Ingenuity will raise off climbing at a fee of three ft per second, rotate, take photos with a 13-megapixel digicam and hover at 10 ft above the floor.

“So, we’re actually excited. It might be an incredible day. We’re all nervous, however we now have confidence that we put within the work and the time and we now have the precise individuals to do the job,”  Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead, mentioned talking after Aung.


Success is just not a certainty and Ingenuity Chamber Check Engineer Amelia Quon identified that the pink planet’s extraordinarily chilly and skinny ambiance may current challenges for the endeavor. 

“It is about one p.c of the density of Earth’s ambiance at sea stage. That is the equal of about 100,000 ft of altitude on Earth or thrice the peak of Mt. Everest,” she defined. “We do not typically fly issues that top.”

Aung mentioned that they’d picked their flight time with atmospheric hurdles and climate situations in thoughts, although Malin House Science Programs Mastcam-Z Uplink Operations Lead Elsa Jensen mentioned they knew there would nonetheless be surprises.

“We hope all the things will go properly on Sunday, however we all know there can be surprises. That is what we educated for,” she mentioned.

“It provides me the chills sitting right here and enthusiastic about the truth that on Sunday my workforce and I are going to be taking photos and video of you guys flying on Mars.” mentioned Jensen, smiling.


The helicopter workforce has a interval of 30 Martian days to take as much as 5 flights, every with probabilities to document further information.

A post-flight briefing is predicted to happen at 11 a.m. EDT on April 12, although JPL famous in a launch earlier final week that timing for occasions is topic to alter as wanted.

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