The small Martian Ingenuity helicopter failed to leave. But now a new flight is being attempted

The small Martian Ingenuity helicopter failed to leave. But now a new flight is being attempted

Ingenuity did not make its fourth flight, the most demanding one so far. But the NASA drone-helicopter is in excellent health and today it tries again with a new attempt

(Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU) It should have hovered in the air for the fourth time, but it was its first failure: the Ingenuity drone-helicopter of the Perseverance mission, in fact, failed to perform its flight to Mars as scheduled, scheduled for Thursday 29 April. This was announced by NASA, according to which Ingenuity would not have switched to "flight mode", necessary precisely to be able to hover in the air, even if, the space agency reassures, the helicopter is safe and in good health for the moment.

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 JPL (@NASAJPL) April 29, 2021

We remember that Ingenuity, which weighs only about 2 kilos, made history on April 19th, when for the first time an aircraft was able to hover in the air on another planet. In the following days, Ingenuity, equipped with 4 carbon fiber blades, arranged on two rotors that rotate at about 2,400 rpm, managed to fly three more times and will have 30 Martian days (equal to 31 Earth days) available to to be able to succeed in his enterprises. During its last flight, the third, Ingenuity managed to reach an altitude of 5 meters, follow a trajectory of about 50 meters and maintain a maximum speed of 2 meters per second. “When Ingenuity's legs landed after the third flight, we knew we had more than enough data to help engineers design future generations of helicopters on Mars,” explained J. Bob Balaram, of JPL. "We now plan to extend the distance, speed and duration to get more insight into its performance."

#MarsHelicopter is safe and healthy. Data indicate the rotorcraft didn’t transition to flight mode, which had been a possible outcome. We'll attempt the 4th flight again on April 30. First data expected the same day around 10: 39a PT (1: 39p ET / 5: 39p GMT).

- NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 29, 2021

The fourth flight, in fact , is even more complex: Ingenuity will have to climb again to about 5 meters in height and head south, flying over rocks and small craters, to travel a total of 133 meters. "We are increasing the flight time from 80 to 117 seconds and the maximum speed from 2 to 3.5 meters per second and more than doubling the total distance," they explain from NASA. As experts say, however, the failure of the fourth flight was not entirely unexpected: due to a problem encountered earlier this month, in fact, there would be a 15% probability for each Ingenuity flight that it could malfunction of the watchdog timer (a hardware timing system) and thus prevent the helicopter from switching to flight mode. "Today's delay is in line with this expectation and does not prevent future flights," they reassured NASA. Today, in fact, another flight attempt is planned for Ingenuity, scheduled for about 4.45 pm (Italian time), with the first data expected at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory after about 3 hours, around 19.30.

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Mars Nasa Perseverance Space globalData.fldTopic = "Mars, Nasa, Perseverance, Space"

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