NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Failed to Takeoff for Fourth Flight on Mars
Data received from the Mars Ingenuity helicopter on Thursday morning shows the helicopter did not execute its planned fourth flight as scheduled. The helicopter is safe and in good health. Data returned during a downlink at 1:21 p.m. EDT (10:21 a.m. PDT) indicates the helicopter did not transition to flight mode, which is required for the flight to take place.
The team plans to try its fourth flight again today, April 30, 2021. The flight is scheduled for 10:46 a.m. EDT (7:46 a.m. PDT, 12:30 p.m. local Mars time), with the first data expected back at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California at 1:39 p.m. EDT (10:39 a.m. PDT).
An issue identified earlier this month showed a 15% chance for each time the helicopter attempts to fly that it would encounter a watchdog timer expiration and not transition to flight mode. Today’s delay is in line with that expectation and does not prevent future flights. A briefing scheduled for Friday, April 30, to discuss next steps for the helicopter will continue as planned but will move to a new time, 11:30 a.m. EDT (8:30 a.m. PDT).