Science | April 11, 2021 11:29 am

NASA Reschedules Mars Helicopter Flight

It's now slated for this week

Ingenuity
Not just a helicopter — a helicopter on Mars.
NASA

On February 18, a unique device arrived on the surface of Mars to assist in exploring the Red Planet. That would be NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, designed to travel to places that rovers are unable to go. An article published last month at The Guardian noted the significance of Ingenuity: “If it succeeds, it will be humankind’s first powered, controlled flight on another planet.”

The space agency’s initial plans initially had Ingenuity scheduled to begin its mission by now. However, a test of the helicopter’s rotors ended prematurely due to what Space.com referred to as “an anomaly.” Specifically, the watchdog timer expired before the helicopter could take flight. This led NASA to delay the launch for a few days while they review the data.

“The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed and worked as planned,” NASA said in a statement. “The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue. Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test.”

According to a report from The Guardian, Ingenuity is now slated to take to the (Martian) skies in the coming week — on Wednesday at the earliest. If all goes according to plan, it’ll be a landmark moment in humanity’s exploration of the solar system — a little later than expected.