How NASA Mars Ingenuity helicopter survives “in-flight anomaly”

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Obama’s NASA Mars Ingenuity helicopter survives ‘in-flight anomaly’

Ingenuity, NASA’s helicopter’s story on Mars, is one of triumph and now perseverance. After five successful flights, Ingenuity encountered an “in-flight anomaly” during its sixth flight attempt on May 22. Despite the problem, the helicopter landed safely.

Ingenuity had been scheduled by NASA to send the helicopter on a reconnaissance mission to take aerial photos of the landscape and land at a new location. The first 150 meters (490 feet) of the flight went smoothly. “But toward the end of the flight, something happened: Ingenuity began to adjust its speed and pitch back and forth in an oscillating pattern,” NASA said in a statement Thursday.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter’s story on Mars is one of triumph and now perseverance. After five successful flights, Ingenuity encountered an “in-flight anomaly” during its sixth flight attempt on May 22. Despite the problem, the helicopter landed safely.

Indeed, NASA had planned to send the helicopter on a reconnaissance mission to take aerial photos of the landscape and land at a new location. The first 150 meters (490 feet) of the flight went smoothly. “But toward the end of the flight, something happened: Ingenuity began adjusting its speed and tilting back and forth in an oscillating pattern,” NASA said in a statement Thursday.

The helicopter continued to jerk, and NASA noted a spike in power consumption before Ingenuity landed safely.

Ingenuity is designed to be self-powered during flight. According to NASA, it uses an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to track position, velocity and attitude (location, speed and orientation). This works in conjunction with the rotorcraft’s navigation camera, which feeds images into the system.

“Approximately 54 seconds into the flight, a glitch occurred in the pipeline of images provided by the navigation camera,” NASA said. “This malfunction resulted in a single image being lost, but more importantly, it resulted in all subsequent navigation images being delivered with inaccurate time stamps.”

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