(CNN) – Where are you now, Mars Ingenuity helicopter? While it looks like the little helicopter has been quiet, it turns out that Ingenuity has managed more of its flights – and even got a software update to fix an annoying issue that plagued some of its previous outings.

The 4-pound helicopter has successfully flown eight times over Mars through June 21, according to an update from Teddy bear Tzanetos, directing helicopter operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

On its last outing, Ingenuity flew 525 feet (160 meters) south and southeast to a new airfield. This was the helicopter’s third flight in the demonstration phase of operations, during which Ingenuity proves its utility as an aerial scout without interfering with the Perseverance rover science mission – looking for evidence of ancient life on Mars.

The seventh flight of the mission took place on June 8.

Ingenuity continues to do well and the team is planning more flights that will strengthen its capabilities. And the helicopter is doing even better now that its “watchdog” software problem has been resolved. This was deployed before the eighth flight.

The watchdog issue occurred before Ingenuity’s first flight in April. Essentially, this watchdog timer acts like a safe mode when it detects a timing issue, preventing the helicopter’s software from going into flight mode and allowing the helicopter’s blades to reach full speed or go out. ascend.

Although a temporary workaround was developed to work around this issue, there was still a possibility that the watchdog timer would go off 15% of the time.

Last week, the helicopter team successfully rolled out a flight software update to Ingenuity to permanently fix the issue, providing more reliability as future flights are planned.

“Flight 8 has confirmed that the FC flight software update was a success and that Ingenuity is ready to confidently proceed with the next operations demo flights,” according to an update from Tzanetos.

The ingenuity is also due to an update of the software of the navigation computer which will solve the problem that arose during the sixth flight of the helicopter. The images captured by the navigation camera, which feeds the helicopter’s navigation computer, exhibited synchronization delays. These images help Ingenuity track its location, among other critical factors during the flight. When the times and the incorrect images were combined, the helicopter would wobble in the air.

Ingenuity was able to land safely, but the team wants to prevent the problem from happening again so the helicopter doesn’t get out of control. This is also why the helicopter did not capture any color images during its last two flights.

“This update will provide a mechanism for the helicopter to detect and correct when image timestamps in the pipeline become out of sync / are removed / skipped, while re-enabling the capture of high-resolution 13-megapixel color images. This update is expected in the next few days, followed by Ingenuity’s ninth flight to Mars, ”Tzanetos wrote.

Although Ingenuity has already achieved the goals initially set by its team on its first flights, the helicopter continues to push the limits of what it can do – and accompanies the Perseverance rover as it explores the site of an ancient lake bed on Mars. .

The-CNN-Wire
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