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Engineers say goodbye to Ingenuity

Ingenuity with missing blade
Ingenuity with its missing blade. Click for original image.

Because Perseverance is about to move out of range of direct communications with the disabled Ingenuity helicopter, engineers have now completed their final transmission from the helicopter yesterday, confirming that a new software update has been successfully installed.

The telemetry confirmed that a software update previously beamed up to Ingenuity was operating as expected. The new software contains commands that direct the helicopter to continue collecting data well after communications with the rover have ceased.

With the software patch in place, Ingenuity will now wake up daily, activate its flight computers, and test the performance of its solar panel, batteries, and electronic equipment. In addition, the helicopter will take a picture of the surface with its color camera and collect temperature data from sensors placed throughout the rotorcraft. Ingenuity’s engineers and Mars scientists believe such long-term data collection could not only benefit future designers of aircraft and other vehicles for the Red Planet, but also provide a long-term perspective on Martian weather patterns and dust movement.

The engineers belief that the helicopter could collect data for as long as twenty years. That data will sit on Ingenuity until such time as a later exploration team arrives, either manned or unmanned. There is also the possibility that later in Perseverance’s mission it could pass nearby again, allowing engineers to grab some of the data then.

According to the press release, those same engineers are now exploring future helicopter missions to Mars. Based on imagery I have seen coming down from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the as yet unstated target locations could be inside the eastern end of Valles Marineris or on the northern perimeter of Hellas Basin.

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On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • Christopher Lumley

    Why aren’t the engineers targeting the ice caps or fringes along the ice caps of Mars where it seems there is a greater possibility of discovering either evidence of past or present life?

  • Christopher Lumley: Your question reveals NASA’s fundamental lie with Perseverance: claiming that its fundamental goal is “the search for life.” That is garbage. The scientists involved know that they are not doing such a thing, but have to push that lie because NASA thinks it necessary to get funding from Congress.

    The fundamental and overarching goal of every single Mars mission in the past two decades has been to study the geology and atmosphere of Mars, period. No one expects to find life, though no one would complain if by some miracle some evidence was found.

    I must also note that NASA’s foolish focus “on finding life” ends up misdirecting resources badly, and is the same mistake scientists made in the 1970s with the two Viking landers. They were so totally focused then on finding Martian life that the landers were unable to study Mars’s local geology properly. Furthermore, it was too soon to look for life. We didn’t know enough about the planet then to conduct that search correctly.

    We do know more now, and that knowledge tells us that if we were really searching for life, the landers and rovers would go to places where there is ice, not the dry equatorial regions.

    Thus, the big lie is revealed.

  • Jeff Wright

    That’s just as well.

    A probe actually finding life means the legal animism movement will try to forbid any further exploration.

    Were I Elon, and SpaceX finds life–I’d sit on it until such time a base is up and running and exterior crops are had…like the first lick of the lollipop makes it yours.

    This the slow-down in Mars landers is actually for the best.

  • Jeff

    “Mars Guy” posted a summary video with the final image taken. Interesting marks on the unseen west side of the dune. From my limited experience with hobby rotor craft, I am still amazed the helicopter is upright.

    He also made a comment about shifting sands, which I had not considered. Will Ingenuity be buried in the sand dune or have the sand removed from underneath it? Instead of resting on the crest of dune, might it end up at the bottom of trough?
    4:34 min

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