NASA Is Sending a Software Patch to Grounded Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

The Ingenuity Mars helicopter has been grounded due to the failure of a sensor, but NASA has a remedy in the form of a software patch it’s about to beam to the Crimson Planet.

As Håvard Grip, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Chief Pilot at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains(Opens in a new window), Ingenuity was only built for exam flights in the course of the heat Martian spring. We are now into Mars winter and cold temperatures are causing a several difficulties for the tiny chopper.

At night time, the temperature drops to minus 80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit), and in purchase to endure, NASA shuts down the helicopter to lower strain on the elements it contains. Even so, preflight checks carried out for the duration of the warmer days discovered a failed inclinometer sensor, which in switch usually means Ingenuity is grounded until eventually a repair can be identified.

The inclinometer contains two accelerometers utilized to evaluate gravity prior to the rotor spin-up and takeoff method. The sensor establishes the orientation of the helicopter relative to the downward way and is crucial to initializing the navigation algorithms prior to takeoff is permitted. For that reason, NASA won’t be able to initiate flight right until it finds an option way to choose the measurement.

As we’ve seen innumerable moments just before, NASA is fantastic at pondering exterior the box and builds in some redundancy in case sure challenges occur. This is 1 of these problems NASA predicted could come about, so it developed a software patch for Ingenuity’s flight laptop or computer. The patch lets the helicopter to choose comparable measurements to the inclinometer, but using the accelerometers contained in the inertial measurement unit (IMU).

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Grip admits that the attitude estimates will be a lot less correct from the IMU, but excellent sufficient to permit a protected takeoff. As soon as the patch is set up, the navigation algorithms will acquire the expected knowledge as if it has appear from the inclinometer, but in truth it is really from the IMU. Proper now, the uplink is remaining set up and around the coming days the computer software patch will be despatched to Mars and installed. If almost everything goes to plan, Ingenuity will begin traveling yet again quite soon.

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Frederic M. Kolodziej

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