Flight 34 Was Short But Significant

Compared to among the different flights this previous 12 months, Flight 34 may not stand out. Even shorter than Ingenuity’s first flight, yesterday’s profitable 18-second flight merely popped as much as a bit over 16 ft (5 meters), hovered, then landed. Despite the flight’s easy nature, the workforce may be very excited due to what it means for the way forward for Ingenuity.

Over the previous few weeks, the operations workforce has been at work putting in a serious software program replace aboard the helicopter. This replace gives Ingenuity two main new capabilities: hazard avoidance when touchdown and using digital elevation maps to assist navigate.

Ingenuity was developed as a know-how demonstration and designed to function on Mars in flat, clean terrain like that at Wright Brothers Field. (*34*) Ingenuity moved on to exploring Jezero Crater alongside the Perseverance rover, we traveled by way of more difficult terrain than the workforce had ever anticipated.

In prior flights, Ingenuity’s pilots have wanted to seek out airfields freed from any rocks or different obstacles that might probably injury the automobile when touchdown. Jezero Crater is a rocky place, so secure airfields have been robust to seek out! Using Ingenuity’s downward-facing navigation digital camera, this software program replace provides hazard avoidance on touchdown. While in flight, Ingenuity will establish the most secure seen touchdown website. When getting ready to land, Ingenuity will then divert over to this chosen website. This functionality permits Ingenuity to soundly land in rockier terrain than earlier than, offering our pilots with many extra potential touchdown websites.

Ingenuity’s navigation software program was designed to imagine the automobile was flying over flat terrain. When the helicopter is flying over terrain like hills, this flat-ground assumption causes Ingenuity’s navigation software program to suppose the automobile is veering, inflicting Ingenuity to start out really veering in an try to counter the error. Over lengthy flights, navigation errors attributable to tough terrain should be accounted for, requiring the workforce to pick massive airfields. This new software program replace corrects this flat-ground assumption by utilizing digital elevation maps of Jezero Crater to assist the navigation software program distinguish between adjustments in terrain and automobile motion. This will increase Ingenuity’s accuracy, permitting the pilots to focus on smaller airfields going ahead.

Flight 34 could not seem to be a lot, nevertheless it was Ingenuity’s first with this software program replace. The workforce will use outcomes from this easy flight to start out testing these new capabilities, making certain that every little thing works as anticipated on the floor of Mars. The replace brings out new performance in Ingenuity, making it a much more succesful automobile and efficient scout for Perseverance. We’re all excited to see the place this replace will enable us to take Ingenuity’s journey subsequent!

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