The Ingenuity helicopter has successfully completed its historic flight on Mars and landed safely on the surface, according to NASA.
The first controlled and powered flight on another planet took place at 3:30 am Miami time.
Unlike when the helicopter’s traveling companion, the Perseverance rover, landed on Mars on February 18, there was a bit of a wait to find out how the helicopter fared in its attempt.
The helicopter team was in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, early Monday morning to receive and analyze the first data from the Ingenuity flight attempt.
Live coverage began on the NASA site Monday morning at 6:15 a.m. Miami time, and a post-flight briefing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Miami time this Monday.
The flight was originally scheduled for April 11, but changed after a scripting problem was discovered when the helicopter went through a pre-flight check system with its software.
The Ingenuity ran a high-speed test of its rotors on April 10, but the script terminated earlier due to a watchdog timer expiring. This early end of the test occurred when the helicopter was trying to switch the computer from the flight mode prior to the flight itself.
The helicopter team determined a command sequence tuning fix that will alter the time when the two helicopter flight controllers start up. This should ease the transition from preflight check for both hardware and software.
This setting was chosen instead of modifying and reinstalling the existing flight control software, which is the backup plan if the setting does not allow for a successful takeoff.
The helicopter crew received data on April 16 showing that the helicopter successfully completed its fast turn test after employing the trim.
The helicopter flew autonomously through the thin Martian atmosphere, without the help of its teams on Earth.
“Now we can say that humans have flown a helicopter on another planet,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at JPL. “We have been talking about our time as the Wright brothers on another planet for so long. And now, it has arrived”.
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