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NASA's Mars Helicopter Survive Black-Out And Malfunction And Flies Again

Flight 14 for the Mars helicopter was just a short hop off ground but a great victory for NASA. The Mars Ingenuity helicopter survived the two-week-long communication black-out caused by the solar conjunction when the Sun's position jams data between Earth and Mars. Ingenuity's flight is also a triumphal comeback from a previous malfunction that threatened the mission to ever fly again, despite the optimism expressed by JPL engineers.

Ingenuity is the first aircraft in history to make a powered and controlled flight on another planet. It was originally designed to take on just five demonstration-of-technology flights but it has more than doubled its original mission parameters. The Mars helicopter recovery capacity is a déjà vu of several Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL space technology rovers and crafts like Cassini, that go beyond any expectations, always find a way out of trouble, and impress with discoveries and historical accomplishments.

Related: NASA's Mars Helicopter Just Got A New Lease On Life

NASA’s JPL broke radio silence on Ingenuity with good news, the Mars Helicopter is back in the air and in the game. Although Ingenuity has already executed impressive flights, flight 14 was only a short hop. That said, it was still an important one. Ingenuity needed to test if it was capable of flying at higher RPM, as the last time it attempted it, a malfunction forced the helicopter to cancel its flight.

Ingenuity, like any helicopter, flies by slicing its way through the air in the atmosphere. As seasons change dramatically on Mars, its atmosphere is also affected. Any helicopter pilot knows that with lower air density, higher speeds of RPM are needed for the craft to fly. If Ingenuity could not fly at 2800 RPM then it would not be able to keep on with its mission in this Martian season. JPL explains that the first time they tried to increase RPMs they found a malfunction with a servo, a mechanical piece key to controlling flight. However, this time around Ingenuity was able to take on the flight.

JPL engineers did not explain how they fixed the malfunction but assured that flight 14 was successful and proves the helicopter can fly in lower atmospheric densities. Questions to just how JPL made Ingenuity fly are still unanswered. Whether they adjusted the navigation-flight code controls to compensate for Ingenuity’s servo malfunction or the malfunction itself was an error of corrupted data due to solar conjunction data interference, only JPL engineers know right now, and they are not talking. The good news is that Ingenuity took to the Martian skies, and it is still an impressive sight.

Next: ESA's 'Apollo 13 Moment': Saving A Swirling Spacecraft With Time Running Out

Source: NASA JPL/Twitter

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