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Mars helicopter to sit dormant until radio contact restored

Mars helicopter to sit dormant until radio contact restored

Science
ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- NASA's Mars helicopter may have to wait days to overcome a blocked radio signal caused by hills between it and the Perseverance rover in Jezero Crater, a NASA official said. Until then, the tiny helicopter that has captured the imagination and attention of people around the globe will sit quietly, charging its solar-powered batteries, Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity program lead, said in an interview. "Eventually, one way or another, we will get much better communications, so it's just a question of when are we going to try again," Tzanetos said. The helicopter lost radio contact with the rover Sunday when it descended to a landing behind a hill after flying about 1/10 of a mile. After a 15-minute blackout, the rover managed to receive broken transmissions from I...
NASA plans careful restart for Mars helicopter after quiet period

NASA plans careful restart for Mars helicopter after quiet period

Science
Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The Mars helicopter Ingenuity is on its own without NASA's guidance for two weeks as the sun interferes with communications to the Red Planet. Sometime around Oct. 14, NASA plans to check in with the helicopter and the Mars rover Perseverance. Previous rovers have endured so-called solar conjunction communication dropouts, but never has a tiny aircraft sat alone on the planet for so long with no Earthly contact. "Ingenuity is unique, something never tried before," Jaakko Karras, Ingenuity deputy operations lead, told UPI. "It contains all kinds of components and construction methodologies that have no parallel on Mars. We just don't know what will happen during the conjunction, although we're hopeful," Karras said. Potential hazards during conjunction include ...
NASA studies bigger, better Mars helicopter

NASA studies bigger, better Mars helicopter

Science
ORLANDO, Fla., July 15 (UPI) -- As the Mars helicopter Ingenuity breaks interplanetary records and captures the public's attention, NASA is quietly researching a bigger, better Mars chopper to navigate the Red Planet's rough terrain. The next aircraft sent to Mars has no budget, no confirmed design and no launch date, but researchers at NASA and various universities have studied possible destinations for such a mission. "We're trying to look at building on the success of Ingenuity, and what we could accomplish with a larger, more capable aircraft to Mars in terms of the science we could do and the distances we could go," Teddy Tzanetos, a NASA robotics technologist, said in an interview. The new Mars aircraft either would be a larger version of Ingenuity, with two rotors, or a much bigger...
Mars Ingenuity flight delayed after rotor test fails

Mars Ingenuity flight delayed after rotor test fails

Science
April 10 (UPI) -- NASA has delayed the first flight of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter until at least Wednesday. The agency announced the delay in a Saturday news release after a high-speed test of the helicopter's rotors abruptly stopped Friday. Advertisement The drone's watchdog timer expired as it was trying to transition the flight computer from "pre-flight" to "flight" mode, according to NASA. The watchdog timer oversees the command sequences and alerts the system to any potential problems, preventing the system from proceeding when an issue is detected. NASA described the helicopter as "safe and healthy" and said the Ingenuity Mars' team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the full-speed test. Friday's test was the last major one before the helicopter's first scheduled f...
Tiny Mars helicopter set for first flight Sunday

Tiny Mars helicopter set for first flight Sunday

Science
April 9 (UPI) -- NASA's plan to fly a helicopter on Mars comes to fruition Sunday with an attempted 40-second climb to just 10 feet, but agency officials say they hope to make bolder efforts in the next few weeks. "We'll be going higher and further," MiMi Aung, the space agency's project manager on the helicopter, Ingenuity, said Friday. "By the fifth flight, if we get that far, we are going to take very bold flights and ... it would be unlikely to land safely because we'll start going into unsurveyed areas." Advertisement NASA plans to fly Ingenuity at 10:54 p.m. EDT Sunday, but results won't be available until 4:15 a.m. Monday due to transmission delays between the helicopter, the rover and Earth. A live broadcast of the mission control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,...