The Ingenuity group is starting preparations for Flight 20!
Flight 19 was efficiently accomplished on February 7, 2022, at 20:21 PST (Sol 345 of the Perseverance mission, 12:00 LMST Native Imply Photo voltaic Time), and positioned Ingenuity safely inside the designated touchdown ellipse simply above the jap ridge of the “South Séítah” basin.
Flight 19 was a reminder of the challenges and unpredictability of the Martian surroundings. As mentioned in our earlier replace, Flight 19 was delayed by an surprising mud storm that brought about a major drop in air density and photo voltaic array output. Ingenuity continued to get up and talk with Perseverance through the storm and returned to its pre-storm energy technology ranges after the sky cleared. The mud storm did, nevertheless, depart the Ingenuity group with two further challenges to take care of: a unclean navigation digital camera window and dirt within the swashplate assemblies.
Evaluating navigation digital camera pictures taken earlier than and after the mud storm revealed that the storm deposited particles on the ground-facing navigation digital camera window, particularly across the periphery of the digital camera’s area of view. Particles on the navigation digital camera window is problematic as a result of Ingenuity’s visible navigation software program might confuse the particles with the precise floor options that it tries to trace throughout flight, which might trigger navigation errors. Thankfully, Ingenuity’s software program offers a software for coping with this situation: The group can present an up to date picture masks file that tells the visible navigation software program to disregard sure areas of the picture. The operations group made use of this function and carried out a picture masks replace late final month.
The mud storm additionally deposited mud and sand in Ingenuity’s swashplate assemblies. On Mars in addition to on Earth, a helicopter’s swashplates are essential as a result of they management the pitch (angle from horizontal) of the rotor blades, which is crucial for secure and managed flight. Ingenuity’s swashplate situation was first detected when the rotorcraft reported a failure throughout its first automated swashplate actuator self-test for the reason that mud storm on Jan. 28, 2022 (Sol 335 of the Perseverance mission). Knowledge revealed that each one six swashplate servo actuators have been experiencing uncommon ranges of bizarre ranges of resistance whereas transferring the swashplates over their vary of movement. The group decided that the likeliest rationalization for the elevated resistance was that mud and sand had amassed on the swashplate assemblies, which have uncovered transferring components. This principle is supported by the truth that Perseverance additionally noticed important mud and sand accumulation on its higher deck following the storm.
Experiments accomplished throughout Ingenuity’s improvement had proven that the swashplate assemblies ought to be capable to filter mud and sand with repeated actuation. A brand new experiment was carried out earlier this month, which additionally confirmed the swashplates’ self-cleaning potential. The group examined this strategy by performing a repeat self-test routine, or “servo wiggle,” on Sol 340. The info from that exercise confirmed a major enchancment – a discount in servo loading, so the group adopted it up with seven back-to-back servo wiggles on Sol 341. Remarkably, by the top of that exercise, Ingenuity’s servo masses appeared practically equivalent to nominal masses seen previous to the mud storm. Ingenuity was cleared for re-attempting Flight 19, which it accomplished with wholesome actuator efficiency all through. All in all, Flight 19 was fraught with challenges, however Ingenuity demonstrated its resilience as soon as once more, shaking off the mud and getting itself out of the South Séítah basin!
The group is now getting ready for Flight 20, which is able to proceed Ingenuity’s march alongside Perseverance again to Perseverance’s touchdown location — the Octavia E. Butler Touchdown Web site. From there, the 2 robotic companions will start touring to the Jezero Crater river delta. Though they’re each headed to the identical assembly level, Ingenuity and Perseverance will take totally different routes to get to the river delta: Perseverance will drive round Séítah, and Ingenuity will take a shortcut, flying northwest throughout Séítah. Flight 20 will take Ingenuity to a shallow melancholy simply southwest of its unique airfield, Wright Brothers Discipline. This location will function the place to begin for Ingenuity’s journey throughout Séítah. Throughout Flight 20, Ingenuity is deliberate to traverse 1,280 ft (390 meters), at an altitude of 32.8 ft (10 meters) and a most floor velocity of 10.1 mph (4.5 meters per second). This flight will happen no sooner than Feb. 25. Keep tuned!