The update to the Ingenuity that made the recent flight so tense was a comprehensive correction to its navigation system (per ZDNet). Prior to the update, say NASA officials, the navigation program operated under the assumption that the vehicle would always be over even ground.

Given Mars has, among other terrains, the largest known mountain (per Britannica) and deepest known gorge in the Solar System (via ESA), it does seem like a drawback to have the navigation system of a delicate, fabulously expensive interplanetary helicopter act like it’s flat. That said, as any programmers will know, installing new firmware is nothing if not an invitation for things to go awry.

Thus far, that hasn’t happened. Ingenuity is still performing its mission and delivering critical data back to Earth. The little helicopter is fundamentally Perseverance’s scout, identifying and transmitting back basic data about potential areas of interest. Now that the navigation has been sorted out, we can hope for even more detailed information about one of our closest planetary neighbors.

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