Mars is one of the most ‘explored’ planets in our solar system. Being the closest to us, it is the only planet we’ve sent a number of explorers and rovers. NASA currently has two rovers and one lander currently exploring the red ball of dirt right now. That wouldn’t stop NASA from putting more cool things on the planet, but accidents can.
Their new Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has been delayed due to an unfortunate error detected during one of its testings. The tests consisted of checking the helicopter’s rotor blade on Friday, April 9. This test is called the high-speed spin rotor test.
The spin test was forced to end early due to something called a ‘watchdog’ timer expiration. This happened while the helicopter was trying to shift into flight mode. Explaining the function of a watchdog, NASA wrote in a statement that “The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed and worked as planned.”
Errors like these usually scare taxpayers as there isn’t really anything NASA can do if something serious happens to an explorer or rover. We can’t really afford to save Matt Damon from Mars in reality. The helicopter was able to safely and successfully send telemetry data back to Earth.
NASA engineers will be reviewing the telemetry data to understand how the error occurred and then proceed to test it again.
According to NASA, the Ingenuity is “safe and healthy” despite the error. Although, the helicopter’s launch has been delayed to Wednesday, April 14 instead of its original Sunday launch.