Pioneer cover

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.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Ingenuity requires software update before flying

JPL engineers have determined that they need to upload a software update on Ingenuity in order to solve the issue that caused the first high-speed spin test of its rotary blades to end prematurely.

In an update released late Monday by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, mission managers said engineers identified a software fix for the “command sequence issue” that ended the high-speed spin-up test Friday.

Officials at JPL, which manages the Ingenuity helicopter project, did not announce a new target date for the rotorcraft’s first test flight. Ground teams hope to determine a new target date next week for the helicopter’s first flight.

According to the original plans, Ingenuity was to get about a 30 day test period, after which Perseverance would move on to its primary Mars science mission. It is not clear at this moment whether that test period will be extended because of these issues. I suspect they will extend it to get as many flight tests as possible, since Perseverance is functioning like a dream and can wait a few extra weeks before beginning what will be years of Martian roving. How often does one get to flight test a helicopter on another world?


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  • Col Beausabre

    Which leaves open the question, why the bug existed after all the software development and testing on Earth. Well, no injury, no foul. I realize we are all anxious to see the first flight, but Nasa’s caution is warranted.

  • bill auger

    how long can it survive the conditions on the surface? its allready collected dust on its solar panels

  • Ray Van Dune

    Does Perseverance have a squeegee tool on its arm?

  • MDN

    It is surprising that such a fault could have escaped detection in QA testing on Earth. Have they released any details on what exactly caused the problem? Perhaps an untimely SEU (single event upset due to radiation) of a critical unprotected memory (which would explain why it wasn’t seen in QA)??? It would not be surprising given schedule, budget, and limited life expectancy if as an engineering test vehicle the flight control subsystem was not designed to be 100% fault tolerant.

  • MDN: I am guessing but I suspect the fault resulted from the first use in Martian gravity, a condition that can only be simulated poorly on Earth. I also suspect that their approximations were not far off, and they are now making the proper adjustments based on their first in situ test.

  • Edward_2

    JPL should have installed a bathroom scale.

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