How Did Ingenuity Survive its Sixth Flight – New Data is Available

NASA made history on April 19 with the first controlled flight on another planet. The little helicopter has bravely pierced the Martian atmosphere in what seemed to be one of the most challenging missions on Mars. And it didn’t stop there.

Now, Ingenuity has just completed its sixth flight and proved once again that it’s an unstoppable machine. However, the last flight didn’t go as planned, and the helicopter experienced a little mishap.

Here is what you need to know.

Strange In-flight Anomaly

Ingenuity encountered a few issues during its sixth flight. Luckily, it survived thanks to its built-in failsafes and planning. NASA has released a complete statement explaining the event.

What happened?

On May 22, the sky was bright and perfect for Ingenuity’s new task: proving its skill to shoot aerial stereo pictures. 

Ingenuity raised vertically to 10 meters (33 feet), made a horizontal flight southwest for 150 meters – it needed to turn and move 15 meters in a southward direction to take pictures – and finally, turned northeast and flew for 50 meters at a speed of 4 meters/s (8.9 mph). And then something went wrong.

The little helicopter started to act strange when it reached the end of the first 150-meter lag. Such a thing was a total shock for NASA engineers.

Havard Grip, the Ingenuity pilot at NASA’s JPL, explained:

“Prior to landing safely, onboard sensors indicated the rotocraft encountered roll and pitch excursions of more than 20 degrees, large control inputs, and spikes in power consumption.”

Navigation issue

Ingenuity’s problem was its main navigation system. According to NASA, the system’s job is to check the timestamp of a picture and find out when it was shot.

Next, it has to use the data to compare what the camera observes based on what it should have been viewing at that time. And if this doesn’t work correctly, Ingenuity can adjust its speed, position, and altitude. Its flight, however, becomes messy.

The little helicopter had to deal with such an issue, but luckily it survived. More information about its next mission will be soon available!


Georgia Nica
Writing was, and still is my first passion. I love all that cool stuff about science and technology. I'll try my best to bring you the latest news every day.