Ingenuity will need a patch to continue flying

The Ingenuity helicopter located on Mars found a failure of the inclinometer, a sensor that measures the angle of inclination of the device. It is used for pre-flight configuration of the drone systems before its takeoff. The inclinometer readings determine how and in which mode the Ingenuity screws should be started.

Ingenuity drone helicopter. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Ingenuity was created as a technology demonstrator. The device was supposed to make five small flights, and its nominal service life was designed for 30 days. But Ingenuity surpassed all the designers’ expectations. During its first year on Mars, it made 28 flights, covering a distance of almost 7 km.

Unfortunately, since the Ingenuity developers did not expect that the drone would work for so long, this circumstance is gradually beginning to make itself felt. In particular, due to the onset of winter, aggravated by the beginning of the dust storm season, it began to receive much less energy, and it was no longer enough for heating. At the moment, during the Martian nights, the temperature inside Ingenuity drops to -80 °C, which cannot but affect the state of its electronics. Most likely, it was due to the effects of low temperatures that the inclinometer of the device failed.

The good news is that the inclinometer readings are not used during the flight. Even before the launch of Ingenuity, engineers provided for the possibility of its breakdown and came up with a solution in the form of a special patch. After its installation, the helicopter will be able to use data from other sensors as a replacement for the inclinometer.

In the near future, engineers plan to complete the download of the patch.After conducting tests that confirm that the update is working as expected, and improving weather conditions, Ingenuity will have to make the 29th flight towards the Perseverance rover.

According to

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