Mars Helicopter to Fly on NASA's Next Red Planet Rover Mission

Mars Helicopter to Fly on NASA's Next Red Planet Rover Mission

The views from a helicopter flying across Mars will also provide Nasa with a stellar public relations tool as it seeks global support for sending humans to the planet in the 2030s or later.

A small autonomous helicopter would be included as part of the Mars 2020 mission, the space agency said in a statement on its website. The official announcement came forwards from the NASA's desk on May 11, 2018. The mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 to study the implications of using "heavier-than-air vehicles" on the Red Planet. The trial is planned as a thirty-day test campaign. Because Mars is far away from Earth, with radio signals taking at least 20 minutes to cross interplanetary space, the Mars Helicopter will fly autonomously and not via a human operated joy stick as drones on Earth are controlled.

They hope that it will prove the technology for future flight explorations of Mars and provide more data on the atmosphere.

"NASA has a proud history of firsts", NASA's administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said in a statement. It is being done at the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. The chopper is also light, weighing a little under four pounds (1.8 kilograms). It has a body that resembles a softball. An helicopter on Mars, however, poses a special technical challenge. Researchers added numerous solar cells so that the batteries can be recharged. NASA also packed in a heating mechanism to help the drone survive the frigid Mars nights.

The helicopter's rotating blades will have to spin at 3,000 rpm - about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth - in order to cut through the air.

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The strategy is for the Mars Helicopter to fly affixed to the bottom of the Mars 2020 vagabond.

Mars 2020 is scheduled now to launch sometime in July 2020 with a landing slated for February 2021. The launch will take place at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The aircraft is expected to reach the Red Planet in February 2021, more than half a year after its July 2020 launch. The rover is created to carry out geological reports also to ascertain the habitability of this Martian environment, NASA explained.

"The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers ... with the added dimension of a bird's-eye view from a "Marscopter", we can only imagine what future missions will achieve", Mr Zurbuchen said.

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