Perseverance and Ingenuity landed together inside Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18. On April 3, the solar-powered helicopter deployed from the rover’s belly and began soaking up the Martian sun for the first time.
NASA had originally aimed to conduct the first Red Planet flight of its Ingenuity helicopter on Sunday (April 11). A high-speed rotor-spinning test on Friday (April 9) didn’t go as planned, however, pushing the debut back until Wednesday (April 14) at the earliest.
The test was planned to make the blades rotate at 2400 rotations per minute, or 40 revolutions per second.
But during the test, “the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a ‘watchdog’ timer expiration,” NASA officials wrote in a statement on Saturday (April 10). “This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode.”
“Our best estimate of a targeted flight date is fluid right now, but we are working toward achieving these milestones and will set a flight date next week,” NASA officials wrote in an update.
Ingenuity’s main task is to show that powered flight on Mars is possible, If Ingenuity’s flight is successful, future Mars missions could use helicopters as scouts for rovers or as data gatherers in their own right, NASA officials have said.
While the helicopter team works out Ingenuity’s issues, Perseverance will continue studying nearby rock targets and prepare the Mars Oxygen In Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) which will generate oxygen from the Martian atmosphere(made mostly of CO2).
Once Ingenuity has finished its flights, Perseverance will focus fully on its own mission,
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