At the point when NASA’s Perseverance meanderer arrived in the Jezero pit on February eighteenth, 2021, it carried with it an intriguing little friend that has been creating a serious ruckus of late! We are talking, obviously, about the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a test flight framework intended to determine whether airborne frameworks can deal with Mars. Since its debut trip on April nineteenth, the helicopter has been pushing the limits of the trip on Mars, going farther and quicker each time.
Truth be told, the helicopter figured out how to set up different records throughout its initial five flights, arriving at the greatest distance of 266 m (873 ft) in 117 seconds. Lamentably, things turned out poorly for Ingenuity during its 6th and most recent flight. Because of a route timing mistake, the helicopter wandered from its flight way, however, figured out how to land securely only a couple of meters from where it should.
This is the first occasion when that Ingenuity has endured a breakdown since it initially took to the Martian skies more than about a month and a half prior. Fortunately, the safeguard frameworks forestalled any mishaps, and mission regulators had the option to decide the wellspring of the issue. The difficulty started close to the furthest limit of the principal leg of the helicopter’s 6th experimental drill, which occurred on Saturday, May 22nd, or the 91st day of the Perseverance mission (Sol 91).
Perseverance’s SuperCam instrument captured this long-range shot of Ingenuity.
As indicated by boss pilot Havard Grip, who as of late expounded on the mistake on the mission’s Status Update page, this flight was intended to push the flight envelope significantly farther and exhibit the helicopter’s flying imaging abilities This would comprise of the helicopter moving to an elevation of 10 m (33 ft) prior to flying on a level plane for 150 m (492 ft) toward the southwest at a speed of 4 m/s (14.4 km/h; 9 mph).
Once there, it was to move another 15 m (49 ft) toward the south while taking pictures towards the west, then, at that point fly another 50 m (164 ft) upper east prior to landing – for a complete full circle of 215 m (705 ft).
“Telemetry from Flight Six shows that the initial 150-meter leg of the flight went off effortlessly. However, around the finish of that leg, something occurred: Ingenuity started changing its speed and shifting to and fro in a swaying design. This behavior continued for the duration of the flight. Before landing securely, locally available sensors demonstrated the rotorcraft experienced roll and pitch outings of in excess of 20 degrees, huge control information sources, and spikes in power utilization.” The issue seems to have been the aftereffect of a “glitch” in the picture pipeline being sent from the route camera to the route framework, throwing the circumstance arrangement off and befuddling the art about its area. The route camera is one of two utilized by Ingenuity and is liable for following surface highlights that are utilized by the helicopter’s flight PC to keep the helicopter inside its predesignated flight way.
As Ingenuity covers more noteworthy distances, more pictures are expected to monitor its flight way and guarantee it doesn’t veer off-kilter. As per boss pilot Havard Grip, this “glitch” ready to go off pictures being sent by the route camera happened roughly 54 seconds into the flight:
“This glitch made a solitary picture be lost, yet more significantly, it brought about all later route pictures being conveyed with erroneous timestamps. Starting here on, each time the route calculation played out a revision dependent on a route picture, it was working based on mistaken data about when the picture was taken. The subsequent irregularities altogether debased the data used to fly the helicopter, prompting gauges to be continually “adjusted” to represent ghost mistakes. Enormous motions followed.”
Luckily, the architects at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory who constructed Ingenuity made certain to incorporate an enormous “dependability edge” in the plan of the helicopter’s flight control framework (consequently permitting it to endure critical mistakes without getting flimsy). This kicked in during the flight and permitted Grip and the mission group to securely cut the helicopter down only 5 meters (16 feet) away from its expected landing site. Moreover, the mission group has an interaction where they quit utilizing the route camera pictures during the last period of the plunge and landing. This guarantees smooth and ceaseless evaluations of the helicopter’s movement during this especially basic period of flight testing. That training paid off here since it guaranteed that Ingenuity was disregarding pictures liable to timing blunders towards the finish of its 6th flight and had the option to quit swaying and level out prior to landing.
Picture of Ingenuity was taken on May 23, 2021 – the day after its 6th flight – by the Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z instrument.
While the flight was dependent upon disappointment, Grip underscored that it showed the adequacy of Ingenuity’s refinement and subsystems that became possibly the most important factor. These incorporated the helicopter’s rotor framework, actuators, and force framework, which reacted to the expanded force requests brought about by the glitch and kept the helicopter flying. It was these very safeguards that considered an edge of accomplishment in what in any case might have been a catastrophe.
“Undeniably, Ingenuity built through the circumstance and keeping in mind that the flight uncovered a planning weakness that will currently be tended to, it likewise affirmed the power of the framework multiply,” said Grip. “While we didn’t deliberately plan a particularly unpleasant flight, NASA presently has flight information examining the external scopes of the helicopter’s presentation envelope. That information will be painstakingly breaking down in the time ahead, extending our supply of information about flying helicopters on Mars.”
Two months after the Perseverance meanderer arrived on Mars, Ingenuity turned into the principal airplane to make a fuelled trip on another planet. Initially, the innovation demonstrator was just intended to perform five dry runs throughout 30 mission days (sols). Its prosperity so far has intrigued NASA to the point that they have chosen to broaden its central goal by in any event a month. The information it accumulates will advise future missions to Mars and other non-airless bodies (like Titan), where flying vehicles will actually want to direct science and give an extraordinary point of view on extraterrestrial conditions. To put it plainly, this “little helicopter that could” was nothing if properly named!