Historic First Flight of Mars Helicopter Delayed by NASA – Here’s Why

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

In this illustration, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet’s surface as NASA’s Perseverance rover (partially visible on the left) rolls away. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Based on data from the Ingenuity Mars helicopter that arrived late Friday night, NASA has chosen to reschedule the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s first experimental flight to no earlier than April 14.

During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a “watchdog” timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode. The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth.

Ingenuity Begins to Spin Its Blades

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter does a slow spin test of its blades, on April 8, 2021, the 48th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was captured by the Navigation Cameras on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed and worked as planned.

The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue. Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test.

Ingenuity's Blades Are Released

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was captured by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on the following sol, April 8, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

11 Comments on "Historic First Flight of Mars Helicopter Delayed by NASA – Here’s Why"

  1. Maurizio Pighin | April 11, 2021 at 1:39 pm | Reply

    Can’t wait to see the takeoff.

  2. OR, they are conducting secret reconnaissance and need an alibi. This is the government after all.

  3. little pistol | April 12, 2021 at 5:26 am | Reply

    What did it cost

  4. I’m in the Helicopter business and can’t wait to see this baby soar.

  5. I was so excited waiting for the helicopter to fly that I am now clinically depressed waiting for the new flight date.

  6. hmm idk it seems wierd but i mean wether and really anything can change on a planet that we dont know 100% abought

  7. This is much more expensive than most personal helicopters but if they get some good information out of this I’m fine with it. …. try try again

  8. Why send one when you can send two?

  9. Christian Wainwright | April 13, 2021 at 12:44 pm | Reply

    Personally I’m very excited with the whole mars mission esp. “ingenuity’s “ part. But I smell a rat and reckon something far more sinister is up with the flight of ingenuity and worry that the, not quite making sense language being used, is some sort of soft padding for a disappointment to come.
    I hope I’m wrong and lift off goes ahead without loosing any more fingernails. Good luck.

  10. So excited! Waiting with abated breath. Best of luck to Ingenuity and all those involved it it’s program. Being in the composites industry for 36 years I am proud!!

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