June 19, 2021

Biology Reporter

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An innovative helicopter faces a problem on its sixth flight to Mars

An innovative helicopter faces a problem on its sixth flight to Mars

It was supposed to be a normal helicopter flight, a flight similar to all…five in the history of Mars flight. But history wanted otherwise.

The flight plan was to reach an altitude of 10 meters, travel 150 meters to the southwest, then change direction to the west for 15 meters, and then fly 50 meters to the northeast. during flight cleverness He was supposed to take stereo pictures of his surroundings.

However, the telemetry data sent back to Earth after the flight ended indicated that it was in flight helicopter I started to fail. After completing the first section, when Ingenuity was about to start moving west, the on-board computer began to adjust the helicopter’s speed, and the device itself began to sway, leaning in one direction and another. In the end, Brilliant landed safely, but her rotors tilted by as much as 20 degrees in flight.

Unfortunately, we won’t get a chance to see what this trip looked like through the eyes of the rover determinationFor it was the first trip that the rover no longer followed, occupied with its own affairs. How bad luck.

During the flight, Ingenuity relies on instruments to measure acceleration and camera rotation, and on images of the surface directly below the helicopter taken at a frequency of 30 frames per second, they are fed directly into the navigation system. The navigation system analyzes when the photo was taken and compares it to what you should see at that exact moment, based on previous photos. Based on the differences between the images, the navigation system evaluates the location and speed of the helicopter.

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During the sixth flight of cars on Mars, one of these images did not reach the navigation system. As a result, all subsequent images had an incorrect shooting date, so navigation algorithms began to perform corrective actions for each subsequent image. It was hot (if it could be hot on Mars), but in the end, despite Ingenuity’s problems, I was able to land only 5 meters from the originally planned landing site.

Ironically, problems during this journey provided engineers with a wealth of information about software vulnerabilities. The fact that the helicopter is fully grounded means that the engineers now have the opportunity to analyze the entire flight, make the necessary corrections and verify their operations. So it may turn out that the problems will allow to improve the autonomous flight system with these future helicopters on Mars.

Most importantly, the helicopter’s sixth flight was not the last. There is still much to wait.