NASA sending a robot helicopter to Mars in 2020

NASA sending a robot helicopter to Mars in 2020

NASA sending a robot helicopter to Mars in 2020

"After the Wright Brothers proved 117 years ago that powered, sustained, and controlled flight was possible here on Earth, another group of American pioneers may prove the same can be done on another world", NASA science mission directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said.

When the Mars 2020 Rover lands on Mars, the Mars Helicopter will deploy from the bottom of the space probe.

The "Mars Helicopter" weighs less than 1.8kg and its blades rotate more than 10 times as fast as those on Earth.

But JPL has made sure that the Mars Helicopter has everything it needs to courageous the rough environment on the Red Planet.

NASA will send a helicopter to Mars to see whether it is possible to fly a craft that is heavier than air. According to the agency, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, has been working on the "marscopter" project since August 2013. The Martian atmosphere is so thin that the altitude of the helicopter at takeoff on Mars already corresponds to an altitude of 30,500 meters on Earth.


BBC notes that existing vehicles on Mars have been wheeled ones bound on the planet's surface, which is prone to running into obstacles.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is sending a helicopter to Mars. Its blades will spin almost 3,000 litres, approximately 10 times the rate employed by helicopters on the planet. Equipped with solar cells to power it over a 30-day test campaign, its blades would spin three times quicker than a normal helicopter, or around 3,000 revolutions a minute so as to handle the planet's atmosphere, which is 100 times thinner than Earth's. The vehicle will reach Mars by February 2021.

Successful tests would open the door to more aerial observation and exploration during future missions, however.

"NASA has a proud history of firsts", said Jim Bridenstine, the agency's new administrator. Controllers from Earth will deliver commands to the helicopter to take its first autonomous flight after its batteries are charged and tests are conducted.

Mars 2020 is scheduled now to launch sometime in July 2020 with a landing slated for February 2021. The rover is created to carry out geological reports also to ascertain the habitability of this Martian environment, NASA explained. "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".

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