x

Science

Navigation Error Sends NASA’s Mars Helicopter on Wild Ride

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A navigation timing error sent NASA's little Mars helicopter on a wild, lurching ride, its first major problem since it took to the Martian skies last month.

The experimental helicopter, named Ingenuity, managed to land safely, officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported Thursday.

The trouble cropped up about a minute into the helicopter's sixth test flight last Saturday at an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters). One of the numerous pictures taken by an on-board camera did not register in the navigation system, throwing the entire timing sequence off and confusing the craft about its location.

Ingenuity began tilting back and forth as much as 20 degrees and suffered power consumption spikes, according to Havard Grip, the helicopter's chief pilot. 

A built-in system to provide extra margin for stability "came to the rescue," he wrote in an online status update. The helicopter landed within 16 feet (5 meters) of its intended touchdown site.

Ingenuity became the first aircraft to make a powered flight on another planet in April, two months after landing on Mars with NASA's rover Perseverance. 

The 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) helicopter aced its first five flights, each one more challenging than before. NASA was so impressed by the $85 million tech demo that it extended its mission by at least a month.

Saturday's troubled flight was the first for this bonus period. Engineers have spent the past several days addressing the problem.

RELATED

WASHINGTON — Americans are less concerned now about how climate change might impact them personally — and about how their personal choices affect the climate — than they were three years ago, a new poll shows, even as a wide majority still believe climate change is happening.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.