NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter completes a sixth flight despite some ‘unexpected motion’

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NASA‘s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has survived its sixth flight on the Pink Planet, however not everybody went to plan, with some ‘surprising movement’ within the remaining few toes.

This movement was from an ‘picture processing challenge’ however the 4lb copter ‘muscled via’ the ultimate 213ft of its 703ft flight over the Martian floor, NASA JPL tweeted.

The flight occurred final week, on Might 22, however NASA mentioned it will be taking extra time to evaluation every flight earlier than releasing knowledge after the fifth flight was over, so info on it surviving the ‘wobble’ weren’t launched till Thursday. 

Regardless of the difficulty the helicopter, presently in a brand new part the place it’s serving to Perseverance scout for areas, ‘landed safely and is able to fly once more.’ 

The newest journey was designed to broaden the flight envelope and display aerial-imaging capabilities by taking stereo pictures of a area of curiosity to the west.

Ingenuity climbed 33ft, moved 492ft southwest at 9 mph, travelled 49ft south whereas capturing pictures in the direction of the west, earlier than going one other 164ft to its touchdown web site. 

Regardless of encountering an anomaly in flight, the helicopter landed inside 16ft of the meant touchdown location and did so attributable to ‘stability margins’ inside flight management.

The NASA crew are actually planning a seventh flight for the 18 inch tall drone, that can occur after they’ve mounted the ‘timing vulnerability’ that led to the in-air ‘wobble’. 

NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter has survived its sixth flight on the Red Planet, but not everyone went to plan, with some 'unexpected motion' in the final few feet

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has survived its sixth flight on the Pink Planet, however not everybody went to plan, with some ‘surprising movement’ within the remaining few toes 

INGENUITY: THE SMALL ROTORCRAFT THAT TOOK TO THE MARTIAN SKY 

Ingenuity was designed as a expertise demonstrator quite than carrying any of its personal science experiments or tools.

It rode to Mars hooked up to the stomach of the SUV-size Perseverance rover.

The helicopter took off from the ‘Wright Brothers Area’ on Monday April 19, making historical past as the primary powered flight on one other world.

For the primary flight, the helicopter took off, climbed to about 10ft above the bottom, hovered within the air briefly, accomplished a flip, after which landed. 

It’s constructed to be mild and robust to outlive the cruel Martian setting.

It weighs slightly below 4lb and is barely 19 inches tall because it has to fly within the a lot thinner ambiance – about 1% that of the ambiance discovered on Earth.

It could fly as much as 980ft, go as much as 15ft within the sky and might spend about 90 seconds within the air earlier than touchdown.

The rotors are 4ft in diameter and the craft contains photo voltaic panels that cost lithium-ion batteries.

It has a 30 day lifespan, with a complete of 5 flights anticipated in that point. 

Ingenuity arrived on Mars on February 18 strapped to the stomach of the Perseverance rover, which acted as an information relay and photographer when flights first began.

The small robotic flying drone made its first flight on April 19, 2021, making historical past as the primary powered managed flight on one other planet. 

Since then it has accomplished sixth profitable flights, the primary 5 as a part of a ‘technical demonstration’ to show one thing may fly on Mars, then this sixth flight was a part of an prolonged mission assist function, serving to Perseverance. 

Telemetry from the sixth reveals that the primary 490ft leg of the flight went off with out a hitch, but it surely was in the direction of the top of that leg the primary challenge was detected.

Simply over 50 seconds into the flight a glitch occurred in a pipeline of pictures utilized by the navigation system to foretell the helicopters location, velocity and altitude.

This triggered one single picture out of lots of to be misplaced, ensuing within the navigation system working from inaccurate info that triggered the mid-flight wobble.  

NASA cannot see this points taking place in actual time as a result of delay in sending knowledge to and from the Pink Planet – presently 207 million miles away from the Earth.

Scouring via the flight knowledge after it was despatched again to mission management – three hours after the helicopter landed – Ingenuity started adjusting its velocity and titling backwards and forwards in an oscillating sample. 

‘This behaviour persevered all through the remainder of the flight,’ wrote Håvard Grip, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Chief Pilot.

‘Previous to touchdown safely, onboard sensors indicated the rotorcraft encountered roll and pitch excursions of greater than 20 levels, massive management inputs, and spikes in energy consumption.’ 

Whereas airborne, Ingenuity retains monitor of its movement utilizing an onboard inertial measurement unit (IMU) – that tracks acceleration and rotation charges. 

By integrating this info over time, it’s doable to estimate the place it’s, how briskly it’s transferring, and the way it’s oriented in area. 

The onboard management system reacts to the estimated motions by adjusting management inputs quickly – at a charge of 500 occasions per second.

If the navigation system relied on the IMU alone, it will not be very correct in the long term, in line with NASA JPL, who added that errors would shortly accumulate, and the helicopter would finally lose its method. 

Ingenuity makes use of navcam pictures, like this one, to calculate the place it’s, how briskly it’s going and the way excessive above the Martian floor it’s flying

The flight happened last week, on May 22, but NASA said it would be taking more time to review each flight before releasing data after the fifth flight was over, so information on it surviving the 'wobble' weren't released until Thursday

The flight occurred final week, on Might 22, however NASA mentioned it will be taking extra time to evaluation every flight earlier than releasing knowledge after the fifth flight was over, so info on it surviving the ‘wobble’ weren’t launched till Thursday

INGENUITY: FIRST FIVE FLIGHTS ON MARS

Flight one: April 19, 2021 with a vertical takeoff as much as 9.8ft, stationary hover and a touchdown 

Flight two: April 22, 2021 with a vertical takeoff as much as 16ft, hover, then shift westward for 14ft earlier than returning and touchdown 

Flight three: April 25, 2021 with a vertical takeoff as much as 16ft, hover, shift northwards for 328ft at an airspeed of two m/s earlier than returning to land

Flight 4: April 30, 2021 with a vertical takeoff as much as 16ft, hover, shift southwards 873ft at 3.5m/s earlier than returning to land 

Flight 5: Might 7, 2021 with a vertical takeoff as much as 33ft, hover, shift southwards 423ft at 3.5 m/s earlier than touchdown at that new location

To resolve this the navigation digicam sends knowledge again into the system to appropriate the IMU estimates frequently.

‘For almost all of time airborne, the downward-looking navcams takes 30 photos a second of the Martian floor and instantly feeds them into the helicopter’s navigation system,’ NASA defined.

Because the picture comes within the navigation system examines the timestamp to find out when it was taken and the algorithm makes predictions about what the digicam ought to have bee seeing primarily based on earlier units of predictions.

This contains floor options from pictures taken moments earlier than and the place these options truly seem within the new picture.

This shift in floor options – nevertheless tiny – permits the bogus intelligence system to foretell the precise location and estimate the place of the helicopter.

One single picture was misplaced abut 54 seconds in, which means all future pictures had the incorrect timestamp, which means the AI was working from inaccurate info.

‘From this level on, every time the navigation algorithm carried out a correction primarily based on a navigation picture, it was working on the premise of incorrect details about when the picture was taken,’ Grip mentioned. 

‘The ensuing inconsistencies considerably degraded the data used to fly the helicopter, resulting in estimates being continuously “corrected” to account for phantom errors. Giant oscillations ensued.’ 

The NASA team are now planning a seventh flight for the 18 inch tall drone, that will happen after they've fixed the 'timing vulnerability' that led to the in-air 'wobble'

The NASA crew are actually planning a seventh flight for the 18 inch tall drone, that can occur after they’ve mounted the ‘timing vulnerability’ that led to the in-air ‘wobble’

Ingenuity climbed 33ft, moved 492ft southwest at 9 mph, travelled 49ft south while capturing images towards the west, before going another 164ft to its landing site

Ingenuity climbed 33ft, moved 492ft southwest at 9 mph, travelled 49ft south whereas capturing pictures in the direction of the west, earlier than going one other 164ft to its touchdown web site

Regardless of encountering this anomaly, Ingenuity was capable of keep flight and land safely on the floor inside roughly 16 toes of the meant touchdown location.

One purpose it was in a position to take action is the appreciable effort that has gone into making certain that the helicopter’s flight management system has ample “stability margin’. 

‘We designed Ingenuity to tolerate vital errors with out changing into unstable, together with errors in timing,’ mentioned Grip.

Despite encountering an anomaly in flight, the helicopter landed within 16ft of the intended landing location and did so due to 'stability margins' within flight control.

Regardless of encountering an anomaly in flight, the helicopter landed inside 16ft of the meant touchdown location and did so attributable to ‘stability margins’ inside flight management. 

They did not want the ‘stability margin’ within the earlier flights because it wasn’t being pushed exterior the realms of what the crew anticipated for ‘regular operations’.

However throughout flight six Ingenuity was pushed to journey sooner, more durable and additional than within the earlier 5, inflicting the margin of error to ‘come to the rescue’.

NASA additionally stops utilizing navigation cameras within the remaining part of a flight – throughout the descent and touchdown – as a way to guarantee easy and steady estimates.

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet (3.9 meters) from the rover. This image was taken by the WATSON camera on the rover's robotic arm on April 6, 2021

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen right here about 13 toes (3.9 meters) from the rover. This picture was taken by the WATSON digicam on the rover’s robotic arm on April 6, 2021

‘That design resolution additionally paid off throughout Flight Six,’ mentioned Grip, including that ‘Ingenuity ignored the digicam pictures within the remaining moments of flight, stopped oscillating, levelled its angle, and touched down on the velocity as designed.’

Regardless of the problems the flight was a hit, in line with NASA, with rotor system, actuators and energy techniques responding effectively to elevated calls for. 

‘In a really actual sense, Ingenuity muscled via the scenario, and whereas the flight uncovered a timing vulnerability that can now should be addressed, it additionally confirmed the robustness of the system in a number of methods,’ mentioned Grip.

NASA MARS 2020: THE MISSION WILL SEE THE PERSEVERANCE ROVER AND INGENUITY HELICOPTER SEARCH FOR LIFE

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will seek for indicators of historical life on the Pink Planet in a bid to assist scientists higher perceive how life advanced on Earth. 

Named Perseverance, the primary car-sized rover is discover an historical river delta inside the Jezero Crater, which was as soon as full of a 1,600ft deep lake.

It’s believed that the area hosted microbial life some 3.5 to three.9 billion years in the past and the rover will study soil samples to hunt for proof of the life.

Nasa's Mars 2020 rover (artist's impression) is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on our own planet

Nasa’s Mars 2020 rover (artist’s impression) is trying to find indicators of historical life on Mars in a bid to assist scientists higher perceive how life advanced on our personal planet

The $2.5 billion (£1.95 billion) Mars 2020 spaceship launched on July 30 with the rover and helicopter inside – and landed efficiently on February 18, 2021.

Perseverance landed contained in the crater and can accumulate samples that can finally be returned to Earth for additional evaluation.

A second mission will fly to the planet and return the samples, maybe by the later 2020s in partnership with the European Area Company.

This concept art shows the Mars 2020 rover landing on the red planet via NASA's 'sky-crane' system

This idea artwork reveals the Mars 2020 rover touchdown on the pink planet by way of NASA’s ‘sky-crane’ system



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