NASA's Mars copter survives 'anomaly' during its sixth flight

An image processing error threw the copter off, but it landed safely despite that.

In this concept illustration provided by NASA, NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet's surface as NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover (partially visible on the left) rolls away. (NASA via Getty Images)

It's been a busy spring for many of us, but hopefully no one has forgotten that NASA is flying a drone on another planet right now. The Ingenuity copter recently completed its sixth flight, however this one ran into a new issue — a timing problem with images received from its navcam gave the helicopter incorrect information about where it was flying.

As the team describes in a blog post, the copter's various other subsystems kept it flying despite the anomaly, as it covered the last 65 meters of its journey and landed safely. Apparently the problem resulted due to a glitch in a single image that removed the craft's ability to read the timing on pictures received from its navigation camera for the rest of the flight. They're working to correct that issue, but it does help prove that Ingenuity is stable enough to fly itself even when something goes wrong.