- NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter suffers ‘anomaly’ ahead of its 14th flight to Mars
- Its two flight-control servo motors oscillate during pre-flight checkout
- This is the first Ingenuity flight that has been canceled due to a hardware issue
- Ingenuity, which was scheduled to make only five flights, has spent more than seven months on Mars
- Ingenuity and NASA’s other Mars missions will go through a two-week blackout in early October due to a ‘solar conjunction’.
NASA said its Ingenuity helicopter that flew to Mars encountered an “anomaly” ahead of its 14th flight to the Red Planet, leading to a flight delay.
The 14th flight was to take place on 18 September, but the ‘anomaly’ occurred when Ingenuity’s two flight-control servo motors began to oscillate during pre-flight checkout, known as a ‘servo wiggle’.
Ingenuity canceled the flight immediately, Jaakko Karras, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Deputy Operations Lead at NASA JPL, wrote in a blog post.
This is the first Ingenuity flight to be canceled due to a hardware issue.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter suffers ‘anomaly’ ahead of its 14th flight to Mars
Its two flight-control servo motors oscillate during pre-flight checkout. Simplicity has a total of six servos, three on each rotor
To date, the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity, which were scheduled to make only five flights, have spent more than seven months on Mars.
This flight would have shown Ingenuity’s ability to fly with 2,700 revolutions per minute, slightly higher than the 2,537 rpm previously used, SPACE.com informed of.
NASA is increasing ingenuity (left) rpm due to ‘decreasing atmospheric density due to seasonal changes on Mars’ at Jezero crater on Mars
Simplicity flying so far
flight one: Steady hover and a landing on April 19, 2021 with a vertical takeoff of up to 9.8 feet
give flight: April 22, 2021 With a vertical takeoff of up to 16 feet, hover, then shift west for 14 feet before returning and landing
Flight Three: April 25, 2021 With a vertical takeoff to 16 ft, hover, shift north for 328 ft at an airspeed of 2 m/s before returning to land
Flight Four: April 30, 2021 With a vertical takeoff of up to 16 ft, hover, shift 873 ft to the south at 3.5 m/s before returning to land
Flight Five: On May 7, 2021 with a vertical takeoff of up to 33 ft, hover, shift 423 ft to the south at 3.5 m/s before landing at that new location
Flight Six: May 22, 2021 With a vertical takeoff of 33 feet, hover, shift southwest 492 feet at 9 mph, travel 49 feet south, travel 164 feet before returning to ground
Flight Seven: June 8, 2021 With a vertical takeoff of 33 feet, hover, 9 mph at 348 feet, land at Airfield D
Flight Eight: Hover, 520 ft shift southwest, with vertical takeoff on June 21, 2021, strongly lands at airfield E 438 ft away
Flight Nine: July 5, 2021, with a record length of 2,050 feet southwest at a potential research location at 16 feet per second.
flight 10: July 24, 2021, with a record altitude of 40 feet (12 m) from Raised Ridge to Airfield G. Flight duration 165.4 seconds.
Flight 11: By flying 1,250 feet for 130 seconds in preparation for a series of reconnaissance missions for the Perseverance rover on August 5, 2021.
Flight 12: August 16, 2021, flying 1476 feet for 169 seconds, soaring 32.8 feet in the air, over the ‘South Sita’ region of Mars.
Flight 13: September 5, 2021, flying 690 feet for 160.5 seconds, climbing 26 feet over a special ridgeline above Mars’ ‘South Sittah’ region.
NASA is increasing the RPM of ingenuity due to ‘decreasing atmospheric density due to seasonal changes on Mars’ at Jezero crater on Mars, Karras wrote.
Ingenuity conducted a test on 15 September, successfully rotating its rotors at 2,800 rpm, with all other subsystems performing ‘flawlessly’.
However, two of the six servos (three on each rotor) did not perform after three days, resulting in Ingenuity stopping its flight.
NASA engineers aren’t sure what caused the ‘discrepancy’, although they do have some ideas.
“One theory for what’s happening is that the moving parts in the servo gearbox and swapplate linkage are starting to wear out some now that Ingenuity has taken more than twice as many flights as originally planned (13 complete versus five planned) ,” Karras wrote.
‘Wear in these moving parts will result in increased clearance and increased loosening, and may explain servo oscillations.
‘Another theory is that the high-speed spin test left the upper rotor in a position that loads servos 1 and 2 in a unique, oscillation-inducing way that we have not encountered before.’
Although servo motors are smaller than those that spin the rotors, they are considered ‘critical to stable, controlled flight,’ Karras said.
In the ‘servo wiggle’ the two servos oscillate before flight.
Two servo wiggle tests were successfully conducted on September 21 and 23, Karras explained, adding that the Ingenuity team is working to understand the discrepancy and get the four-pound helicopter flying again.
Ingenuity, along with NASA’s other Mars missions, will undergo a two-week blackout due to a phenomenon called ‘solar conjunction’. This event, which occurs every two years, occurs when the Red Planet is on the other side of the Sun from Earth.
Ingenuity, along with NASA’s other Mars missions, will undergo a two-week blackout due to a phenomenon called ‘solar conjunction’.
This event, which occurs every two years, occurs when the Red Planet is on the other side of the Sun from Earth. This can interfere with communication and lead to unexpected behavior.
However, during the blackout that took place between October 2 and October 16, Ingenuity will not be completely inactive, Karras wrote.
Simplicity and Persistence will be configured to keep each other’s company by communicating roughly once a week, with Ingenuity sending basic system health information to its base station…