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NASA scheduled to restart Ingenuity helicopter in October

17:45, 03 October 2021
NASA scheduled to restart Ingenuity helicopter in October Photo: pixabay.com

NASA’s helicopter Ingenuity has been on the Red Planet by itself, without being controlled by the scientists, for around two weeks and the researchers tend to think that Mars’ environment might have affected helicopters’ systems.

Sometime in the middle of October, NASA plans to check in with Ingenuity and the rover, Perseverance. The machines that were on duty on the Red Planet before these two have experienced solar conjunction communication dropouts and NASA is likely to know what kind of a problem they should solve.

“Ingenuity is unique, something never tried before,” Ingenuity deputy operations lead, Jaako Karras, told UPI.

“It contains all kinds of components and construction methodologies that have no parallel on Mars. We just don’t know what will happen during the conjunction, although we’re hopeful,” he said.

Potential dangers for Ingenuity are sandstorms and extreme temperature that may go below 130F (54C) and affect its components beyond the crucial point. Sandstorms can cover solar panels, which play the key role of battery recharging, and raw Martian dust can penetrate sensitive technology.

Ingenuity was designed to conduct five flights, but it did many more - 13. Its initial mission was to take pictures of the Red Planet, but after some flights NASA has been using it as a scouting for Perseverance unit.

On September 18, Ingenuity was to initiate the 14th flight, as NASA launched two rotors the result came back positive - both rotors worked well. During the next steps of launching Ingenuity, the data received from the helicopter indicated that the machine aborted the flight automatically. The abortion was followed due to the problem with mechanism that help control direction and position of the rotors, knows as swashplate, Karras said.

The next two spin tests of the rotors didn’t show the problem, however, NASA came up with a decision to wait until after the solar conjunction to attempt Flight 14, the agency said.

“Without being able to inspect the vehicle, and with limited data, it's really difficult to put a probability on those two theories,” Karras said.

“We’re planning to come out of conjunction with some additional helicopter health checkouts, but we hope Flight 14 will happen quickly afterward,” Karras added.