Wit's first flight to Mars was originally scheduled for April 11, but NASA found problems with the aircraft's rotor in previous tests, so the test flight was delayed to April 14. NASA announced on Tuesday that after analyzing the problem, it decided to postpone the first flight again.
Wit was launched from Earth on July 30, 2020 with willpower Mars rover, and successfully reached Mars orbit in February this year. Since then, the helicopter has landed on the surface of Mars with the rover, deployed solar panels to power itself, and prepared for its first test flight on the 11th. However, in the process of rotor test, the airborne computer has a failure.
Software failures delayed the first brief test flight of the smart. NASA's plan is for the helicopter to take off about 3 meters, hover for about 30 seconds, and then land safely in the right position. This is a very easy task for UAVs on earth, but it will be a challenging feat on the red planet, which is more than 160 million kilometers away from the earth.
The atmosphere of Mars is about 100 times thinner than that of earth, which makes it more difficult for spacecraft to take off and fly. To solve this problem, the rotor speed of the smart needs to reach 2500 rpm, which is much faster than the passenger helicopter on earth. In addition, because Mars is too far away from the earth and the signal delay time is too long, it is obviously unrealistic to pass the earth remote control test. Therefore, the whole testing process must be automatic.
NASA hopes to have five aerial demonstrations in 30 days, each of which will be more challenging than the previous one. The first step is to prove that the smart can fly, and the final step is to test how far it can fly. Wit's goal is to increase the way NASA explores other planets.
Once the new test date is set, NASA plans to send the flight plan of the smart to Mars in advance, wait for the helicopter to restart and perform the scheduled mission, and send back information about its performance.