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Ingenuity completes 34th flight using new hazard avoidance software

Overview map
Click for interactive map.

Ingenuity yesterday completed its 34th flight on Mars, a short vertical up-and-down flight lasting only eighteen seconds in order to test just installed new hazard avoidance software.

The tan dotted line on the map to the right shows Ingenuity’s recent flights and ends where it sits today. The white dotted line marks Perseverance’s travels.

Ingenuity’s navigation software was designed to assume the vehicle was flying over flat terrain. When the helicopter is flying over terrain like hills, this flat-ground assumption causes Ingenuity’s navigation software to think the vehicle is veering, causing Ingenuity to start actually veering in an attempt to counter the error. Over long flights, navigation errors caused by rough terrain must be accounted for, requiring the team to select large airfields. This new software update corrects this flat-ground assumption by using digital elevation maps of Jezero Crater to help the navigation software distinguish between changes in terrain and vehicle movement. This increases Ingenuity’s accuracy, allowing the pilots to target smaller airfields going forward.

The new software is part of an effort to use Ingenuity to test helicopter flying in Jezero Crater in preparation for the two sample return helicopters which will eventually land here to grab Perservance’s core samples and bring them to the ascent vehicle for return to Earth.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

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4 comments

  • Ray Van Dune

    “Ingenuity’s navigation software was designed to assume the vehicle was flying over flat terrain. When the helicopter is flying over terrain like hills, this flat-ground assumption causes Ingenuity’s navigation software to think the vehicle is veering, causing Ingenuity to start actually veering in an attempt to counter the error. Over long flights, navigation errors caused by rough terrain must be accounted for, requiring the team to select large airfields.”

    Though I admittedly never developed off-planet flight software, I’ve done enough dev to make me wonder why an initial production release of software would incorporate such a restrictive and potentially dangerous assumption?

    In a related light, I have not yet heard of any plans for a Mars-based GPS-type navigation network. Sounds like something whose time may have come.

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune wondered: “Though I admittedly never developed off-planet flight software, I’ve done enough dev to make me wonder why an initial production release of software would incorporate such a restrictive and potentially dangerous assumption?

    Perhaps the assumption came from the Perseverance landing zone, combined with the plan for use of Ingenuity. In fact, Ingenuity has operated for a year beyond its expected life before this test unit reached a point where the software should be modified for better performance. The software team probably didn’t receive any indication that they would need to program for uneven terrain when they wrote the original version. I’m sure that the software engineers used the experiences that the operators gained from previous flights over uneven, hilly, or hazardous terrain; they may not have known, without this experience, the extent of the modifications needed or the factors necessary for correction over uneven terrain.

    Undoubtedly, there are other improvements that could be made for conditions that Ingenuity or future flyers will eventually encounter.

  • We must remember Ingenuity’s initial primary goal to understand why the initial software was so restrictive. Ingenuity was first and foremost intended to simply find out if it was even possible to fly a helicopter on Mars. Thus, simply going up and down was an unknown, and to minimize risk to achieve this primary goal they designed the software for the safest flattest terrain.

    They have proven that primary goal now many times over. It is now time to step up the engineering tests. Upgrading now, after 33 flights of experience, is quite smart, to my mind.

  • Edward

    Ingenuity has transitioned from proving the concept to exploring capabilities and possible functions for future Martian flyers.

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