When early today Ingenuity attempted to complete its fourth and most ambitious test flight on Mars the helicopter did not lift off, for reasons that engineers are still investigating.
[JPL] engineers are assessing the data, since it’s not yet clear what caused the failure. One potential cause is a software issue that first showed up during a high-speed spin test ahead of the chopper’s first flight. That test failed because Ingenuity’s flight computer was unable to transition from “pre-flight” to “flight” mode. Within a few days, though, [JPL] engineers resolved the issue with a quick software rewrite.
But those engineers determined that their fix would only successfully transition the helicopter into flight mode 85% of the time. So Thursday’s attempt may have fallen into the 15% of instances in which it doesn’t work.
This flight was supposed to fly south for about 430 feet, take pictures, and then return to its take-off point. If they can trouble-shoot the issue they hope to do another flight quickly. They still have a week left in their 30 day test period.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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