NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Transitions Into Stationary Testbed

On April 16th NASA announced the formal end to Ingenuity’s days as the first ever Martian helicopter, following its 72nd and final flight mission in January. This flight ended with a rough landing during which the helicopter’s blades got damaged and separated, leaving the plucky flying machine with its wings clipped. During the final meet-up of the Mars Helicopter Team there was cake, but none for Ingenuity as its latest data set was reviewed by the team from 304 million kilometers away. This data confirms the latest software patch allows it to work stand-alone as a data collection platform.

With these latest software changes, Ingenuity will wake up daily, activate its computers and perform a self-check of all its components before collecting sensor data and images. The main goal of this is to collect long-term performance data on the helicopter’s systems, with enough onboard memory to allow for measurements to be stored for around 20 years. This means that although the Perseverance rover will have to trundle on without its flying mission buddy, one day in the future another rover, helicopter or primate will presumably drop by to either communicate with Ingenuity if it’s still alive, or harvest its memory unit for data retrieval.

Thanks to [Mark Stevens] for the tip.

22 thoughts on “NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Transitions Into Stationary Testbed

  1. I think that is great news.
    As Prosperity leaves its little “packages” on the Martian surface for later recovery, a side trip could be made to recover Ingenuity’s data as well.

      1. If someone left a damaged helicopter on the side of the road where I live, I would drag it back to my place. And get it running. Or add it to my existing lawn ornaments museum.

    1. While I won’t agree entirely with the above statement, a similar notion did make me uncomfortable and unable to play much Astroneer. A game where you basically travel to new planets and immediately start strip mining the surface with your giant backpack drill/grinder/vacuum.

    1. 4GB. 20y may be ~7300 data points when stored once per day, let’s round it up to 8k data points. 4GB/8k That’s 500kB per data point. Seems reasonable for sensor data + a compressed image.

    2. Why flash? A decent amount of EEPROM could go a long way, and with error correction would be more than fine to resist the occasional flipped bit. There’s no reason to store measurements in flash memory, as there’s no reason to rewrite/clear data.

      1. It was made from off-the-shelf stuff on purpose wasn’t it? To see if that could be done.
        Basically a smartphone with a rotor running linux.

        Don’t ask me why it cost 23 million when it wasn’t an Apple device though ;)

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