Annotated image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the topographic map below it, provide a look at the altitude of surface features standing between the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover and Ingenuity helicopter at the conclusion of the rotorcraft’s 17th flight at Mars on Dec. 5, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Mars helicopter experienced a glitch during Flight 17 that took place on Sunday, December 5th.

Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity Team Lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, reports that a radio communications link between Ingenuity and the Perseverance Mars rover was disrupted during the final descent phase of the flight, following a planned 614-foot (187-meter) traverse.

“All available telemetry during and after the flight suggests that the activity was a success and that the loss of link was due to a challenging radio configuration between Perseverance and Ingenuity during landing,” Tzanetos adds.

Based on the telemetry, the aerial craft performed nominally during its 117-second flight 33 feet (10 meters) above the surface of Mars. The telemetry cut out during the final third of the craft’s descent, roughly 10 feet (3 meters) off the surface.

Line of sight

The problem cropped up as Ingenuity began to descend and the line of sight between the rover and helicopter antennas began to become obstructed/shadowed by a 13-foot (4-meter) hill called “Bras.”

The first opportunity to downlink the missing data from Flight 17 will be no earlier than (today) Wednesday, “after which the team will finalize its health assessment,” Tzanetos reports.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This 17th flight was designed to continue the helicopter’s journey back to the “Octavia E. Butler” landing site by flying halfway across “South Séíitah.”

“We are planning on Flight 18 to occur in the next two weeks, which would bring Ingenuity another ~200 meters northeast, just shy of the northern edge of S. Séítah,” Tzanetos says.

For more details, go to:

https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter/status/350/flight-17-discovering-limits/

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