Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By Bennie Mills

NASA sends a helicopter to Mars

NASA sends a helicopter to Mars

Controllers on the planet will control the helicopter to shoot its initial autonomous airport after its batteries have been charged and evaluations are all ran, NASA explained.

NASA in 2020 will send to Mars a small helicopter that will be based on the Mars Rover of the next generation.

"NASA has a proud history of firsts", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

We have rovers on Mars' surface, and orbiters like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter floating around the planet, but we don't have anything flying around the surface of Mars right now.

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The Mars Helicopter is being envisioned as a major advancement for future exploration of the planet, providing a new way of exploring areas of the Mars surface that are not easily accessible by land.

The Mars Helicopter's development began in 2013 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

Mars Helicopter weighs about 1.8 kilograms and has a cubical fuselage similar in size to a softball. Its fuselage is about the size of a softball, and its twin, counter-rotating blades will bite into the thin Martian atmosphere at nearly 3,000 rpm - about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth.

The aerial vehicle will come equipped with solar panels that will recharge its lithium-ion batteries and a heating unit to allow it to survive the Martian nights.

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"The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet (12,200 meters)". The atmosphere at Mars is very thin; about 1 percent of Earth's. After placing the helicopter on earth, the rover is going to be told to drive to a safe space to relay orders.

According to the source, the Mars Helicopter will be bundled with the USA space agency's Mars rover when it launches in 2020. NASA plans to test the craft up to five times over a 30 day period. "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".

NASA sees Mars Helicopter as demonstrating the ability of such vehicles to serve as scouts for future rover missions. He further added, "We already have great views of Mars from the surface as well as from orbit".

According to Bridenstine, the success of the "marscopter" may enable more ambitious missions in the future. It's expected to reach the planet on February 2021. The six-wheeled rover will hunt for signs of habitable environments as well as sites that may have once hosted microbial life, examining the Red Planet with 23 cameras, a microphone and a drill to collect samples.

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He added, though, that Mars 2020 has worked to accommodate the helicopter, and was not concerned about any technical risk to the mission from it.

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