NASA decided to suspend all missions because of a communication issue between the helicopter and its mobile partner Perseverance.
NASA engineers said there was a communication problem between the helicopter-shaped mini-drone and its mobile partner, Perseverance. While examining the source of the problem, it was decided to stop the ongoing tasks, vehicles and planned activities for safety reasons.
Engineers said they hope the problem will be resolved within days. However, if there is a hardware problem, it could put the future of the mission in great danger. Under the best-case scenario, only missions involving the Mars rover can be resumed. But even that could cause jobs to be disrupted a few times beyond schedule.
NASA has no alternative!
According to the information announced, following Ingenuity’s 17th flight on Sunday (December 5th) there was a interruption in the radio connection between the helicopter and the traveler. The problem occurred during the landing phase of Ingenuity, which means the team did not know if the helicopter landed safely and was unable to take photos from the flight.
But NASA received confirmation that the mobile helicopter was healthy about fifteen minutes after the problem occurred. Engineers analyzed existing telemetry data. They confirmed that the problem was in the radio connection between the two due to problems with the line of sight between the devices.
The flight was planned on the assumption that Perseverance would be in a specific location and orientation. However, within the previously planned schedule, plans for the traveler changed. That’s why he was found somewhere else. What caused the interruption in radio communication was the difference in distance between the two.
In an interview, a member of NASA’s Ingenuity team confirmed there was a problem with the device. But he said he did not believe it was an insurmountable obstacle. Ingenuity program leader Teddy Tzanetos said in an interview:
In the end, one way or another, we’re going to get much better communication. So the question is, when are we going to try this again? Basically, we’ve discovered the limits of Ingenuity’s ready-to-use 900 megahertz radio connection.
The limited data shows that the power in the rotor vehicle is excellent. This suggests that it is in a vertical posture and that the solar array allows it to efficiently power six lithium-ion batteries.
But the same line-of-sight issues that the team believes hindered communication at the end of Flight 17 still prevent most data packets (including images from the flight) from being transmitted to the rover and then to Earth.