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NASA postpones historic flight of its Ingenuity helicopter on Mars

Miami, Apr 10 (EFE) .- The takeoff of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter from the Jezero crater of Mars, which would be the first attempt at a powered flight on another planet, has been rescheduled “for no earlier than April 14,” announced this Saturday the NASA Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Although the takeoff was initially scheduled for this Sunday, April 11, the US space agency announced the delay in a statement.

“According to the data from the Ingenuity Mars helicopter that arrived on Friday night, NASA decided to reschedule the first experimental flight of the helicopter … for no earlier than April 14,” said the JPL, based in California and in charge of a project that has been compared to the feat of the Wright brothers, the pioneers of aviation on Earth.

According to the statement, there was a failure during a high-speed turning test of the rotors of the small aircraft, which left Florida (USA) in July 2020 attached to the belly of the Persevererance rover.

The rover landed on February 18 successfully in the Jezero crater of the “Red Planet” after a risky descent at high speed in seven minutes and after crossing the atmosphere of Mars.

“The command sequence controlling the test ended earlier due to the expiration of the ‘watchdog’ timer. This occurred when trying to switch the flight computer from ‘pre-flight’ to ‘flight’ mode,” the JPL detailed on its blog. The NASA.

The space agency had scheduled the Ingenuity Mars to take off this Sunday at 12:30 pm “local solar time on Mars” (10.54 pm EDT on Earth).

“The helicopter team is reviewing the telemetry to diagnose and understand the problem. After that, they will reschedule the test at full speed,” the laboratory said in the statement.

At about 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and the size of a soccer ball, the Ingenuity has built-in cameras and a microphone to document the flight from your perspective.

Although the flight will be autonomous, the signals that the aircraft will receive come from JPL in California.

From there they will send general commands on elevation and acceleration, among others, which are just parameters for Ingenuity to manage its own flight.

Those signals also go first to the Perseverance rover, and this vehicle sends them to the helicopter and then they repeat the operation in reverse to arrive with the response to Earth.

It will take 15 minutes and 27 seconds for radio signals to close the 278 million kilometer gap between Mars and Earth, in part because “almost everything related to the Red Planet is complicated,” according to NASA. The helicopter must remain “floating” for about 30 seconds, NASA said.

“When we reach 10 feet (3 meters), Ingenuity will enter a hover that should last, if all goes well, about 30 seconds,” explained in a previous statement specialist Håvard Grip, in charge of flight control of Ingenuity in The laboratory.

The potential flight of the Ingenuity will pave the way for future missions that will include advanced robotic flying vehicles, collect high-resolution images from the air, and examine sites that are hard to reach for rovers.

At the moment, the helicopter is safe and in good condition and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth, JPL said.

(c) EFE Agency

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