NASA seems to be into unconventional Mars helicopter communications hiccup through flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter noticed its possess shadow during its 13th flight on the purple world.


This tale is portion of Welcome to Mars, our sequence discovering the pink earth.

It would seem NASA’s plucky Ingenuity helicopter efficiently concluded its 17th Mars flight on Sunday, but one thing uncommon occurred in close proximity to the close of the journey. The Perseverance rover and the rotorcraft generally stay in touch for the duration of flight, but as Ingenuity descended, it shed its radio communications backlink with its wheeled companion. 

That might sound very worrisome, but original indications propose the helicopter is just high-quality. “Close to 15 minutes afterwards, Perseverance received quite a few packets of added Ingenuity telemetry indicating that the flight electronics and battery were being nutritious,” Ingenuity crew guide Teddy Tzanetos wrote in a standing update on Tuesday.

The Ingenuity workforce is wanting into the communications problem, and said it really is very likely “thanks to a challenging radio configuration concerning Perseverance and Ingenuity all through landing.” A mix of elements may well have contributed to the issue, such as the rover’s orientation in relation to Ingenuity and a hill that might have disrupted the radio signal at the stop of the flight.

This graphic and graphic demonstrates Ingenuity’s takeoff and landing sites in relation to the Perseverance rover. The location labeled “Bras” is the hill that could have contributed to the interaction interruption. The topo map exhibits the elevation of the landscape among the rotorcraft and rover.


The rotorcraft’s Flight 17 lasted 117 seconds and the info it can be transferred to the rover so far appears superior for it owning landed in a harmless, upright posture. The Ingenuity crew is preparing to get better the lacking data as soon as Wednesday and make a closing well being evaluation of the helicopter.

If all is effectively, Ingenuity could fly all over again inside a few months. It is at the moment heading back to its unique landing web site and performing as an aerial scout for Perseverance. 

The helicopter was regarded as a high-possibility, significant-reward know-how experiment, and it has firmly landed on the high-reward element of that equation. It has previously correctly weathered some small specialized glitches and continues to soar in the challenging disorders of the Jezero Crater.

Tzanetos expects this won’t be the only time Ingenuity’s radio communications get interrupted: “We will do all that we can in arranging to stop them (when probable), but short term reduction of radio link is a normal portion of helicopter operations at the pink planet.”