NASA postpones the first helicopter flight on Mars: the Ingenuity helicopter refused to go from pre-flight to flight mode in a rotor test. Why is not yet known. Now the flight must take place no later than April 14.
NASA states in a brief update that during the high-speed rotor spin test on Friday, a time-out occurred when the transition from pre-flight mode to flight mode had to take place. Although it is not yet known why that happened, the helicopter was able to send its full telemetry data to Earth, so it is expected that the problem can be resolved. NASA does not disclose more information.
Ingenuity has to operate a number of independent flights. The thin air makes that a challenge on the red planet. As a result, the double rotors have to spin much faster than is necessary on Earth to float. Ingenuity weighs 1.8kg and has a 1.2m wingspan.
The Ingenuity helicopter is hitched with Mars rover Perseverance; the latter also serves as a base station for the helicopter. The data that Ingenuity collects is first sent to Perseverance and then sent to Earth. The two are on a mission to track down any signs of life and collect samples for a potential return to Earth. The rover has been on the planet since February 18 .