NASA lost contact with “Ingenuity” during the landing of the device after performing the test vertical flight #72

NASA lost contact with “Ingenuity” during the landing of the device after performing the test vertical flight #72

NASA lost contact with Ingenuity after the helicopter performed a landing procedure during Vertical Test Flight #72 on January 18, 2024. Previously, communication between the rover and the helicopters was lost for some time due to natural obstacles that interfere with the radio channel. In the current case, Ingenuity did not perform a horizontal elimination, but only ascended 12 meters and descended. Also, the landing zone of the helicopter was previously available to the rover via a radio channel in a stable state without loss of communication.

On January 6, Ingenuity made flight #71 at 71 meters instead of the planned 360 meters due to a failure in the navigation system. This is the first flight of the helicopter in 2024. The total distance of “Ingenuity” flights on Mars almost exceeded 17 km (17,030 meters). Flight #71 lasted 35 seconds instead of the planned 125 seconds. The purpose of the flight was to check the current capabilities of the helicopter, as well as to photograph objects for scientific research on the way. NASA engineers reported that the relatively indistinct terrain over which Ingenuity was flying (a sand bar with few or no rocks) proved to be a challenge for the upgraded version of its navigation system. Previously, “Ingenuity” received new navigation capabilities as part of tests of a new version of the helicopter control program and has already flown several times over a similar landscape without any particular problems.

NASA scheduled a 32-second vertical test flight (takeoff, 12-meter climb, hover, descent) for Ingenuity on Jan. 18 to test the helicopter’s systems after an unplanned early landing during the previous flight. During this mission, Ingenuity transmitted data to the rover for further relay to NASA. Telemetry analysis showed that Ingenuity had successfully climbed to its designated maximum altitude of 12 meters. But during the planned descent, the communication between the helicopter and the rover was interrupted even before landing. NASA engineers are analyzing the available data and considering the next steps to restore communication with the helicopter.

Technically, an abnormal situation could have occurred, related to a malfunction of the onboard systems, or the helicopter falling on supports that can withstand a certain load, for example, when falling from a height of 1-2 meters. When falling from a great height, the structure of the supports may collapse or they may spring and throw Ingenuity to one side. In this case, the helicopter could fall on its side and lose radio contact with the rover. NASA promised to find out. what happened to Ingenuity?

“The Perseverance rover is currently out of line of sight from Ingenuity, but its team may consider moving closer for a visual inspection by the helicopter,” – reported at NASA.

According to NASA, the Perseverance rover is currently performing its primary science mission and has traveled more than 23.7 km. “Perseverance” is located several hundred meters from “Ingenuity”.

On December 22, 2023, “Ingenuity” made flight #70 at 259 meters. This was the third consecutive flight of the helicopter in more than 6 days, during which it flew a distance of 1,666 meters.

In December, NASA planned and carried out two high-speed “Ingenuity” flights, during which a special set of pitch and roll angles was implemented for the design of the helicopter (exceeding the initial capabilities). This test is designed to measure flight performance with critical parameters to understand the limits of the current device model.

NASA also acknowledged the occurrence of fairly serious limitations on available energy and engine temperature problems during Ingenuity flights. The elements of the helicopter began to overheat much earlier than before, which reduces the possibility of long-term flights.

On September 16, “Ingenuity” performed vertical test flight No. 59 with fixation above the take-off point and with a rise to a height of 20 meters. NASA showed a synchronous video of Ingenuity flight #59 from two cameras: a rover and a helicopter.

During this flight, NASA verified that Ingenuity can now land at speeds 25% slower (0.75 m/s) than originally built into its soft landing design (3.54 km/h or 0. 98 m). /c) without rebound and stable reception of signals to lock the rotors. Tests showed that at a landing speed of 0.75 m/s, the helicopter’s on-board sensors confirmed the landing and disengaged the propellers in normal mode.

On September 25, Ingenuity made flight #60 at 340 meters and set a new speed record of 8 m/c (the previous record was 6.5 m/c).

On October 5, “Ingenuity” performed vertical test flight No. 61 with fixation above the take-off point and with a rise to a height of 24 meters. Previously, the ceiling of “Ingenuity” was a record 20 meters (even earlier – 18 meters).

On October 12, 2023, “Ingenuity” made flight #62 at 268 meters and set a new record for the speed of movement of 10 m/c (previous records for this parameter were 8 m/c and 6.5 m/c).

On October 19, 2023, “Ingenuity” performed flight #63 at 574 meters.

On October 27, 2023, “Ingenuity” made flight #64 at 411 meters.

On November 2 and 3, 2023, Ingenuity conducted Flight #65 at 7 meters and Flight #66 at 0.5 meters to test the dune maneuvering mode.

On December 2, 2023, “Ingenuity” made flight #67 at 393 meters.

On December 16, 2023, “Ingenuity” made flight #68 at a distance of 702 meters.

On December 20, 2023, Ingenuity completed flight #69 at a record distance of 705 meters (the previous record for flight distance was 704 meters, 25 flights, April 2022).

During 72 missions and almost three years of operation, “Ingenuity” flew a total of 17,030 meters above the surface of Mars and spent 7,694 seconds (more than 128 minutes) in flight mode in the planet’s atmosphere. The device reached a ceiling of 24 meters and developed a maximum speed of 10 m/s. During all the flights, “Ingenuity” took hundreds of color photos and several thousand black-and-white pictures with the help of its cameras.

Photo of the state “Ingenuity” for two years of work on Mars.

According to current statistics, Ingenuity has been in operational mode on Mars more than 30 times longer than the estimated time: 1037 sols (Martian age), like the Perseverance rover, but 972 sols on the surface of the planet – autonomously. The helicopter was designed for 30 days of operation in Martian conditions after disembarking from the rover. It turned out that its capabilities allow you to fly even longer. In August 2021, NASA extended Ingenuity’s operation to 2022 and then to 2023 as a reconnaissance probe to capture possible obstacles from the air and select optimal paths for the rover. It was able to fly until the winter of 2023 and now its missions have been extended to the spring of 2024, if problems with communication, navigation sensors and battery are solved. Currently, the device remains stable. Above it, NASA engineers began to conduct experiments on going beyond the established operational capabilities.

April 19, 2021 “Ingenuity” carried out the first autonomous flight, and the rover made and sent on Earth his video.

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