July 5, 2022

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Ingenuity Adapts for Mars Winter Operations

As detailed in our final weblog submit, for the primary time in our yearlong prolonged mission we had a lack of communications with Ingenuity from the downlink of Might 3 (Sol 427) and Might 4 (Sol 428). After every week of anomaly investigation, two sols devoted to knowledge assortment, and the heroic efforts of the Perseverance and Ingenuity operations groups, I’m very pleased to report that we now have reestablished dependable communications with Ingenuity. Primarily based on all accessible telemetry, the helicopter seems wholesome, and we now have resumed a modified type of operations. Assuming winter recommissioning actions full nominally, Ingenuity’s twenty ninth flight might happen within the subsequent few sols.  

Telemetry from Ingenuity confirmed that the lack of communications was because of inadequate battery state-of-charge (SOC) going into the evening, which resulted in a reset of our mission clock. This every day SOC deficit is more likely to persist at some stage in Martian winter (till September/October).

Challenges like these are to be anticipated: After tons of of sols and dozens of flights past the 5 flights initially deliberate, the solar-powered helicopter is in uncharted terrain. We are actually working far outdoors our authentic design limits. Traditionally, Mars could be very difficult for spacecraft (significantly solar-powered spacecraft). Every sol could possibly be Ingenuity’s final.

Beneath is a abstract of our anomaly investigation during the last two weeks, our elevated winter danger posture, and the potential paths forward for Ingenuity throughout winter and past.

Sol 427 and 428 Lack of Communications

Now we have reached the purpose in Martian late fall/early winter at which Ingenuity can now not assist the vitality calls for of nominal operations. Beginning on the night of Sol 426, we consider Ingenuity began experiencing in a single day battery brownouts (drops within the battery’s voltage), which reset the electronics. As a result of seasonal lower in accessible photo voltaic vitality, will increase in airborne mud density, and the drop in temperatures, the vitality demand to maintain the electronics powered and heat all through the evening has surpassed Ingenuity’s accessible vitality finances.

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Beneath is a plot of the environmental circumstances at Jezero Crater. The black line is a climatological mannequin of airborne mud density (known as “tau”) over a Martian yr, and the anticipated every day insolation (quantity of Solar’s rays reaching the photo voltaic panel) illustrated within the inexperienced dotted line. We are actually within the a part of the Martian yr with peak tau, mixed with falling insolation. Not proven on this plot is the extra development of decrease common every day temperatures, which additionally provides to Ingenuity’s vitality demand. We anticipate to be on this difficult winter vitality paradigm till round Sol 600, at which level we anticipate to return to being power-positive from sol to sol.

Environmental Plot at Jezero: This graphic depicts the environmental circumstances at Jezero Crater from the day NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover landed by way of Sol 600. The black line exhibits a climatological mannequin of airborne mud loading, whereas the inexperienced dotted line exhibits every day insolation. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Obtain picture ›

Whereas in winter, every evening we anticipate our battery SOC will fall low sufficient to the place:

  1. Chilly Biking Parts: Our heater thermostat can now not maintain the battery (and surrounding electronics) at their programmed setpoint (e.g. minus 13° F / minus 25 ° C). In consequence, we anticipate that Ingenuity’s electronics are reaching in a single day ambient temperatures of roughly minus 80 °C (minus 112 °F).

    Affect 1: This chilly biking every evening presents a lifetime danger to our digital parts.

    and

  2. Cleared Mission Clock: The battery can now not assist our voltage regulators and mission clock. This nightly brownout resets (or clears) our mission clock.

    Affect 2: Every morning when Ingenuity warms up, fees its drained battery, and makes an attempt to activate its laptop, it’s booting based on a misaligned alarm schedule, which is out of synchronization with Perseverance.

When Perseverance tried communications with Ingenuity on the morning of sols 427 and 428, Ingenuity didn’t reply as a result of it was waking up on the incorrect time. The workforce reacted by uplinking a full-sol search exercise with the Helicopter Base Station (HBS) onboard Perseverance to try to speak with Ingenuity throughout one among its misaligned alarm widows, which succeeded.

Since Sol 429 and each sol since (except for Sols 444 and 445, which didn’t include helicopter actions), we now have been in every day contact with Ingenuity through the use of comparable morning search actions throughout what we consider to be the more than likely occasions when Ingenuity can be sufficiently charged to try booting its electronics. These morning search actions reprogram the helicopter’s mission clock every sol, which, at some stage in that sol, allows extra scheduled actions to utilize the vitality that we do have accessible. Presently, we attain sundown with ~68% SOC, with an estimated want of no less than 70% to maintain all the things powered in a single day. Our 2% SOC deficit is predicted to develop to a 7% deficit as soon as we attain winter solstice (Sol 500 in July), at which level circumstances will begin to enhance.

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All telemetry downlinked thus far means that Ingenuity is wholesome, with no indicators of harm from the in a single day chilly cycles. This morning-search adopted by night actions is our new regular for the instant future.

Winter Threat Posture

Our newest fashions counsel that no matter modifications to our in a single day thermostat technique, it is going to be extraordinarily difficult and even inconceivable to maintain our electronics core module (ECM) parts heat and inside their nominal temperatures in a single day. Though element failure has at all times been a danger that we now have carried since rover deployment, that danger is now magnified. ECM parts have been usually stored heat in a single day by our battery heater (sometimes set to five°, minus 4°, or minus 13°F, or minus 15°, minus 20°, or minus 25°C). We anticipate that ECM parts are actually thermal-cycling all the way down to the ambient in a single day temperatures of minus 112 °F (minus 80 °C). We do have restricted ECM element testing to counsel that choose parts might survive by way of the winter, however we can’t predict how your complete ECM will fare all through winter. Chilly-soaking electronics is believed to have brought on the tip of the Alternative and Spirit Mars rover missions.

Winter Operations and Past

Given our elevated danger posture, our focus within the final a number of sols has been to prioritize knowledge downlink from Ingenuity to the HBS. Now we have a handful of Heli-to-HBS switch actions left earlier than all distinctive knowledge are copied from Ingenuity to the HBS. Particularly, we’re copying flight efficiency logs, electronics logs, and high-resolution coloration pictures from the final eight flights which can be nonetheless onboard Ingenuity.

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In any case crucial logs are transferred, the workforce will proceed with a recommissioning section throughout which we’ll reestablish Ingenuity’s flight-readiness given our ongoing in a single day cold-cycling. Like throughout the know-how demonstration section, we’ll carry out a high-speed spin earlier than continuing to flight. Ought to Ingenuity obtain a clear invoice of well being, we might be able to execute a brief sortie to the southwest in Flight 29. This flight will enhance our radio hyperlink for roughly the subsequent 4 to 6 months whereas Perseverance samples on the river delta.

Within the meantime, the Ingenuity flight software program workforce will probably be making ready a collection of upgrades to allow superior navigation options. These new capabilities will assist Ingenuity ascend the river delta and proceed its missions as a ahead scout for Perseverance previous winter.

Subsequent Steps

The Perseverance and Ingenuity operations groups have completed a unprecedented job in reestablishing dependable communications with Ingenuity. As of Sol 446, the workforce has transferred ~3,500 megabits (Mb) of information from Ingenuity to the HBS on Perseverance. There are roughly ~400 Mb of information remaining on Ingenuity of noncritical logs and pictures that will probably be transferred opportunistically, whereas the workforce forges forward with recommissioning efforts this week. If the telecom hyperlink between Perseverance and Ingenuity stays secure, and Ingenuity receives a clear invoice of well being, we hope to execute Flight 29 within the subsequent a number of sols.