ORLANDO, Florida: A software problem has caused NASA to delay the first helicopter flight on Mars.
When Perseverance, the Mars rover, landed on February 18, it also carried a four pound helicopter under its chassis.
Since landing, NASA has successfully released the helicopter from the rover and prepared it for flight.
However, the helicopter remains grounded pending a software update.
“Our best estimate of a targeted flight date is fluid right now, but we are working toward achieving these milestones and will set a flight date next week,” NASA said in a written statement.
The helicopter’s rotors were tested on Mars, and scientists on Earth recognized a problem with the sequence of commands that would initiate flight.
Officials have noted that the rotors must turn at far greater speeds than on Earth because of the thin atmosphere on Mars.
“While the development of the new software change is straightforward, the process of validating it and completing its uplink to Ingenuity will take some time,” NASA said.
The rover and helicopter landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater, located in the planet’s northern hemisphere.