After rover, NASA to fly helicopter on Mars

After rover, NASA to fly helicopter on Mars

After rover, NASA to fly helicopter on Mars

Scientists are planning a series of five test flights for the aircraft, which is expected to make its debut on Mars in July of 2020.

In a statement released on Friday, NASA announced it will be sending a helicopter to Mars during its 2020 rover mission.

"NASA has a proud history of firsts", said Jim Bridenstine, the agency's new administrator.

The helicopter is meant to show the viability and usefulness of aircraft on Mars, NASA explained, together with potential roles because of low-flying scout or to attain areas inaccessible out of the floor.

The helicopter looks like "a medium-size cubic tissue box,"according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, California, which designed it". The aircraft also weighs less than four pounds (1.8 kilograms), according to NASA's website.

NASA said the blades of the small helicopter, which has a softball-sized fuselage, would maintain an RPM of almost 3,000, about 10 times that of helicopters on Earth.

"The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet [12,000 meters]", MiMi Aung, Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL, said in the statement.

However, its small dimensions will come in handy during its trip to the Red Planet, since the "marscopter" is set to get there attached to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover.

NASA sees Mars Helicopter as demonstrating the ability of such vehicles to serve as scouts for future rover missions. When the rover reaches Mars, the helicopter will be placed on the ground, and once the rover is moved to a safe distance, the helicopter will attempt a historical first launch, even though it is only planned for a height of 10 feet, where it will hover for 30 seconds. Once the drone has charged its batteries using solar cells and run through some tests, the rover will relay commands to it from controllers on Earth.

What will the Mars Helicopter do? The mission is scheduled to take off on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, and reach Mars in February 2021. "Instead, we have an autonomous capability that will be able to receive and interpret commands from the ground, and then fly the mission on its own". If it does not work, the Mars 2020 mission will not be impacted. "We are working very hard for efficiencies and spending 30 days working on a technology demonstration that does not further those goals directly, from the science point of view, is a tradeoff that has to be made". The rover is created to carry out geological reports also to ascertain the habitability of this Martian environment, NASA explained.

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