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posted by martyb on Friday May 28 2021, @06:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the not-dead-yet! dept.

Mars Helicopter Suffered Glitch During Flight, Forced Emergency Landing:

During its sixth flight across the desolate Martian surface earlier this month, NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter experienced a bit of a software glitch.

The tiny four pound rotorcraft "began adjusting its velocity and tilting back and forth in an oscillating pattern" according to an official update, just after covering just over 500 feet.

The event forced it to make an emergency landing some 16 feet away from the intended touchdown site.

[...] Ingenuity is capable of adjusting control inputs 500 times per second thanks to a sophisticated inertial measurement unit (IMU) that can track its accelerations and rotation rates.

In addition to this IMU, Ingenuity uses its navigation camera to see where it is going and where it currently is. Unfortunately, 54 seconds into its sixth flight, a glitch occurred in the pipeline of images taken by this navigation camera, as Grip explained.

"This glitch caused a single image to be lost, but more importantly, it resulted in all later navigation images being delivered with inaccurate timestamps," Grip wrote in the update. That means the helicopter was "operating on the basis of incorrect information about when the image was taken."

Also at c|net

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  • (Score: 2) by epitaxial on Friday May 28 2021, @12:03PM (2 children)

    by epitaxial (3165) on Friday May 28 2021, @12:03PM (#1139602)

    Autonomous flight isn't easy. Especially without GPS and only an IMU for guidance.

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  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Friday May 28 2021, @01:51PM (1 child)

    by PiMuNu (3823) on Friday May 28 2021, @01:51PM (#1139622)

    Sure, I just assume that they tested the thing to death on earth before launching to Mars.

    • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Friday May 28 2021, @09:03PM

      by Osamabobama (5842) on Friday May 28 2021, @09:03PM (#1139839)

      All the flight tests on Earth would have had to be in a low pressure tank to properly simulate the aerodynamics. Other tests were likely conducted in a lab environment. I think we can all see the implications of this: They never did end-to-end testing in an environment where the locals were subjecting it to electronic attack. Heck, they probably didn't even consider the possibility.

      Alas, it's all too clear in retrospect...

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