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NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity needs a patch to keep flying after a sensor failure

According to Havard Grip, the project’s main helicopter pilot, NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has suffered a sensor failure. He described some of the issues the tiny robot is facing in the hostile environment in a recent blog post on the NASA Science page, as well as the fact that a sensor failure will necessitate a computer patch.

Ingenuity and the Perseverance rover have been on Mars since February 2021. It has flown 28 times since then, substantially more than was originally envisaged. The mission’s initial goal was to see if a helicopter could fly on Mars. Ingenuity has demonstrated that it is capable of doing so—and much more. Its present responsibilities comprise studying the environment around Perseverance and assisting in the plotting of the ship’s trajectory.

The hostile atmosphere on Mars, however, has caused difficulties for the little helicopter and the team tasked with keeping it flying. To begin with, Grip claims that because the helicopter was not intended to last as long as it did, no precautions were taken to ensure that it could obtain adequate power from the sun during the short Martian winter days. As a result, it must be turned off at night.

As a result, it might be exposed to temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius, potentially causing harm to its electronics. Furthermore, the continual movement in temperature extremes may cause damage. Every vehicle transported to Mars, including the helicopter, must cope with continual dust, which is significantly more abundant in the winter.

Despite the environment, Grip says that ingenuity has held up very well. However, the inclinometer sensor has stopped operating. It is required to orient the helicopter prior to liftoff, even though it is not required for flight. Grip claims that the team behind Ingenuity considered this scenario and produced a patch to fix the problem before the chopper even arrived on Mars. The patch is designed to use data from other sensors to deceive the helicopter into believing it is receiving data from the inclinometer. He said the patch will be mailed out and deployed soon, and that Ingenuity should be back in the air soon.


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