The story of NASA’s Ingenuity Rover on Mars has been one of triumph and now of endurance. After five successful flights, Ingenuity’s sixth attempt was marred by an “in-flight abnormality.” Despite the difficulties, the helicopter landed safely. NASA intended to send the chopper on a reconnaissance mission, taking aerial photographs of the landscape and landing in a new location. On May 22, the first 490 feet (150 meters) of the flight went without a hitch. Before Ingenuity safely landing, the chopper continued to buck, and NASA noticed an increase in power usage.
While in flight, Ingenuity Rover is built to take care of itself. According to NASA, it uses an inertial measuring unit (IMU) to track position, velocity, and attitude, according to NASA (location, speed, and orientation). This operates in conjunction with the navigation camera on the rotorcraft, which transmits images into the system. The visual problem gave Ingenuity’s navigation system a headache, leading it to try to repair itself owing to “phantom errors.”
From the minute it took flight, Ingenuity Rover was a huge success. Every subsequent airborne journey has been a further accomplishment, demonstrating how powered, controlled flight can be accomplished on another planet and what it means for future exploration.