As the season has turned to winter in Jezero Crater, conditions have become increasingly challenging for Ingenuity, which was designed for a short flight-test campaign during the much warmer Martian spring. Increased amounts of dust in the atmosphere, combined with lower daytime temperatures and shorter days, have impacted Ingenuity’s energy budget to the point where it is unable to keep itself warm throughout the Martian nights.
In its new winter operations paradigm, Ingenuity is effectively shutting down during the night, letting its internal temperature drop to about minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 80 degrees Celsius) and letting the onboard electronics reset. This new way of operating carries with it risks to Ingenuity’s electronic components, many of which are not designed to survive the temperatures they are being exposed to at night. Moreover, extreme temperature cycles between daytime and nighttime tend to cause stresses that can result in component failure.
Ingenuity at Airfield D: This image of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument of the Perseverance rover on June 15, 2021, the 114th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The location, "Airfield D" (the fourth airfield), is just east of the "Séítah" geologic unit. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS. Download image
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