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NASA's helicopter Ingenuity on Mars encountered glitches on its sixth flight above the Red Planet. The small Martian chopper was tough as expected, however, Space.com reports.

Ingenuity took off May 22 on its sixth maneuver after the initial flight of its extended Mars mission. The flights tested the rotorcraft's scounting capability over the Red Planet.

The flight plan called for the four-pound copter to obtain a 33-feet altitude, cruise 492 feet cruise to the southwest, move 49 feet southward, capture images westward, then zip 164 feet before touchdown to the northeast.

Things went well at first. Less than 60 seconds into the flight, Ingenuity suffered a glitch that disrupted the flow of images from its navigation camera to the onboard computer, Havard Grip, Chief Pilot of Ingenuity, reported from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

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Science Times - Mars Helicopter Ingenuity in Trouble: Exhibits Toughness on 6th Flight while Suffering Glitch
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images)
In this concept illustration provided by NASA, NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet's surface as NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover rolls away.

The Glitch

In an update posted on the NASA website, Grip said the glitch resulted in a "single image to be lost" that led to all navigation images transmitted later with inaccurate time stamps.

Every time the navigation algorithm executed a correction according to navigation image, it operated on the basis of wrong information about when the image was captured, he pointed out.

The subsequent inconsistencies considerably degraded the information used to fly the chopper, resulting in estimates being continuously corrected to account for the so-called "phantom errors," said Grip, adding that large oscillations followed.

Ingenuity inclined and rolled over 20 degrees at certain points during the sixth flight and encountered spikes in power consumption, he explained.

However, according to a similar Business Insider report, the chopper was able to manage powering through the glitch, ultimately landing safely  approximately within 16 feet of its intended touchdown.

Ingenuity's Toughness Amidst the Glitch

The Mars helicopter was able to overcome the situation, and while the flight revealed a timing susceptibility that will now be dealt with, it also validated the system's toughness in many ways, Grip said.

While NASA did not deliberately plan such a stressful flight, it now has flight data about the external performance of the chopper.

The data will be analyzed, expanding knowledge on the performance of helicopters on the Red Planet, the first time such aircraft have flown outside of Earth.

Ingenuity landed on the Red Planet with Perseverance, NASA's Mars rover, in February. They touched down inside the Jezero Crater supposedly an ancient Martian lake and river delta.

NASA Authorizes Mission Extension

Early last month, the helicopter deployed from the belly of the Perseverance rover, kicking off a five-flight, month-long campaign designed to  demonstrate that powered aerial flight is possible above Mars. The flights went quite smoothly and Ingenuity stayed in good condition at its conclusion. NASA authorized the extended mission extension for additional scouting flights.

Perseverance documented the first five flights of Ingenuity although this was not done for the May 22 maneuver. The Perseverance rover is currently beginning to concentrate on its own science mission, involving the search for signs of ancient Mars life and retrieving samples to bring back to Earth.

iGagadgetPro's YouTube video below shows Mars helicopter Ingenuity as it experienced glitch on its sixth flight:

 

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