Mars helicopter Ingenuity misses takeoff for 4th flight on Red Planet

NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity was purported to get an actual exercise this morning (April 29), however issues did not go as deliberate.

The 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper was scheduled to lift off from the ground of Mars’ Jezero Crater right this moment round 10:12 a.m. EDT (1412 GMT), kicking off its fourth flight on the Red Planet. That did not occur.

“Aim high, and fly, fly again. The #MarsHelicopter’s ambitious fourth flight didn’t get off the ground, but the team is assessing the data and will aim to try again soon. We’ll keep you posted,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages Ingenuity’s technology-demonstrating mission, said via Twitter today

Video: Zoom in on Ingenuity helicopter’s 1st flight on Mars

Ingenuity additionally had a hiccup within the leadup to its first flight try, failing to transition to flight mode as planned. In response, the helicopter staff altered the command sequence beamed from Earth — a repair that allowed Ingenuity to fly on Mars for the first time on April 19.

Tests right here on Earth instructed that repair can be efficient about 85% of the time, Ingenuity staff members mentioned. It’s potential that the identical situation cropped up right this moment, and the newest try simply fell into the unfortunate 15% slot. But we’ll have to attend till Ingenuity’s handlers have carried out the requisite analyses to seek out out extra.

Ingenuity landed with NASA’s Perseverance rover on Feb. 18 contained in the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero, which hosted a giant lake and a river delta within the historic previous.

Ingenuity deployed from Perseverance’s stomach on April 3 and started prepping for its flight marketing campaign, which is designed to point out that aerial exploration is feasible on Mars.

The helicopter has carried out three flights thus far, one apiece on April 19, April 22 and April 25. Those sorties have gotten more and more bold, with the solar-powered chopper touring 330 toes (100 meters) at a prime speed of 4.5 mph (7.2 kph) during April 25’s 80-second flight.

Related: How NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity can fly on the Red Planet

The fourth flight was designed to push these boundaries much more. Today’s plan known as for Ingenuity to cowl about 872 toes (266 m) of floor and attain a prime speed of 8 mph (13 kph) whereas staying aloft for 117 seconds, NASA officers mentioned. 

Ingenuity’s flight window is coming to an finish. The marketing campaign is capped at 5 flights over a one-month stretch from the April 3 deployment date, as a result of Perseverance wants to begin focusing on its personal mission, which includes searching for indicators of long-gone Mars life and gathering samples for future return to Earth. 

(Perseverance has been documenting and supporting Ingenuity’s work; for instance, communications to and from the helicopter should undergo the rover.)

It’s unclear at this level if Ingenuity will have the ability to squeeze 5 flights in earlier than its time is up, however the helicopter staff members have mentioned they are going to do their greatest to make that occur.

Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a ebook concerning the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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