NASA Announces It is Sending a Helicopter to Mars in 2020

Enlarge ImageA Mars Helicopter prototype undergoes some testing on Earth.                  Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser  CNET

Enlarge ImageA Mars Helicopter prototype undergoes some testing on Earth. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser CNET

On May 11, NASA announced that a small autonomous rotorcraft will be added to the Mars 2020 mission.

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

The drone weighs 1.8 kilograms (just under four pounds) and the dual, counter-rotating blades will spin at around 3,000 rpm, roughly 10 times the rate of a regular helicopter.

Mars's atmosphere is 100 times thinner than the Earth's atmosphere, which could make flying a helicopter very hard.

Soviet scientists dropped two balloons into the atmosphere of Venus in the 1980s.

"We already have great views of Mars from the surface as well as from orbit.With the added dimension of a bird's-eye view from a 'marscopter, ' we can only imagine what future missions will achieve". But if it does work, helicopters could have a future as low-flying scouts and aerial vehicles to access locations not reachable by ground travel. If successful, this will be the first use of the aircraft on a different planet, reports the online edition of the Chronicle.info with reference to the Correspondent. Its blades will spin at nearly 3,000 rpm, roughly 10 times the rate employed by helicopters on Earth.

"NASA has a proud history of firsts", NASA's administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said in a statement.

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"The idea of a helicopter flying in the sky of another planet is exciting".

The helicopter is meant to demonstrate the viability and usefulness of such aircraft on Mars, NASA said, with potential roles as a low-flying scout or to reach locations inaccessible from the ground.

The helicopter is to make five short flights over 30 days. The vehicle will reach Mars by February 2021. "The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars".

The Mars 2020 vagabond is slated to introduce in addition to an Atlas V rocket, made by the United Release Partnership, from Cape Canaveral, Florida in July 2020.

"We don't have a pilot and Earth will be several light minutes away, so there is no way to joystick this mission in real time", Ms Aung said.

"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", she pointed out. The rover is created to carry out geological reports also to ascertain the habitability of this Martian environment, NASA explained.

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