Ingenuity, The Martian Helicopter, Will Receive a Software Update To Allow it’s First Flight on the Red Planet
Good news! After a software bug was discovered in Ingenuity’s programming that delayed it’s planned April 9th test flight on Mars, engineers have found a solution that they can fix from Earth. The test flight was intended to be the first flight of a controlled aerial vehicle in the Martian atmosphere, and serve as a benchmark for future aerial exploration of the planet.
Delivered to Mars by the Perseverance rover, Ingenuity is a first-of-its-kind experiment on another planet. The rover first sought a suitable launching site, then released the helicopter onto the surface of the planet to prepare for several tests over a 30 day period. The first planned flight is expected to last for only 20-30 seconds and will see Ingenuity hover through the thin Martian atmosphere. How thin is the atmosphere? It is roughly 1% the density of Earth’s – making the test flight extremely difficult to plan for. The expected range of the helicopter will be up to 15 feet in the air and almost 1000 feet in range.
The bug fix and software update is a fairly straightforward procedure, but the implementation and confirmation process can be a bit lengthy. I will be a few days before the helicopter will be ready to retake its maiden test flight.