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Today’s newsletter is early because NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars is set to fly its $85 million Ingenuity helicopter this morning. (Still cheaper than a single CH-53K King Stallion)
Timing-wise, it’s happening now in the bleary-eyed AM in the US, and it’s not exactly 8K drone footage that we’ll be watching — instead it’s more like a data download to assess, but the NASA control room will be watching, and as NASA said itself, you only get to fly on a different world once.
Here’s what’s happening:
Ingenuity was set to fly on April 11, after a test on April 9, but NASA needed to push the flight back after some problems with the command sequence, that were later identified, fixed, uploaded, installed to the helicopter, and re-booted.
- Yup, NASA patched its helicopter from 287 million kilometers away (178 million miles).
- At the time, the Ingenuity team agreed “that minor modification and reinstallation of Ingenuity’s flight control software is the most robust path forward,” said officials at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.
- On Friday, a successful spin test for the helicopter was completed, with the helicopter remaining grounded, and its blades spinning up to 2,400 RPM.
- Now, then, comes the first flight.
- NASA detailed why today, Monday, was chosen: “Our team considers Monday’s attempted first flight like a rocket launch: We’re doing everything we can to make it a success, but we also know that we may have to scrub and try again,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- By the way, Ingenuity carries a tiny piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers’ first plane to fly successfully on Earth.
Here’s when it’s happening today:
- NASA will be livestreaming coverage of Ingenuity’s first flight on NASA TV.
- Again, that’s not to say we’ll see the flight exactly, more data and details, and later, images, so it’s a watch-along.
- So, should things go to plan, the quad-blade helicopter will attempt its flight around 3:30 am ET this morning, and NASA will start its livestream at 6:15 am as the data is processed and received on Earth.
- Following the flight, at 2pm ET, a NASA briefing will take place.
- Watch via NASA TV on YouTube or on Facebook.
📉 The chip shortage has caused at least one new flagship phone to go out of stock (Android Authority).
📸 Samsung could skip 3D ToF sensors for its Galaxy S22 phones (Android Authority).
🔌 OnePlus Warp Charge 65 review: How to do proprietary wired charging in 2021, with 65W for OnePlus gear, and backup 45W USB Power Delivery PPS for universal USB-C gadget charging (Android Authority).
📁 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: 6 things we want to see (Android Authority).
🔋 This electric fastback is the next Audi A6 e-tron, due in late 2022. By the way, this week is the Shanghai Auto Show, so expect even more EV announcements (Ars Technica).
🥽 Facebook says no Oculus Quest Pro this year, meaning the Quest 2 is the main event for a long while yet (The Verge). While we’re here, Facebook is set to announce audio-only products …aka copying Clubhouse? (Reuters).
💸 Why it’s misleading for Apple to say ‘Apple Music pays twice as much per stream as Spotify’ (Variety).
😬 Two die in Tesla crash in Texas with no one at the wheel: “There was no one in the driver’s seat,” Sgt. Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said (Reuters).
💲 New York caps the cost of broadband for low-income families (Engadget).
💍 Amazon has canceled its Lord of the Rings MMO game, due to a contract/IP dispute (The Verge).
🖨️ Adobe co-founder and inventor of PDFs Charles Geschke dies at age 81 (Gizmodo).
🎨 Novel hydrogels can safely remove graffiti from vandalized street art (Ars Technica).
🐝 “Do honeybees, wasps and hornets have a different cocktail of venom in their stings or is their chemistry pretty much all the same?” (r/askscience).
I’ll be livestreaming this thing too, any minute now…
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor