Nasa is sending a helicopter to search the skies over Mars
Nasa is sending a helicopter to search the skies over Mars
NASA Is Sending A Helicopter To Mars. That Is Not A Typo.
12 May, 2018, 06:42
What started as a technology development project at NASA'sJet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in August 2013, has become The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft which will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover mission, now scheduled to launch in July 2020 and be the first heavier-than-air craft on another world.
Because Mars' atmospheric density is only 1 percent of Earth's, NASA says the drone's twin, counter-rotating blades would have to turn at almost 3,000 rpm - about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth.
NASA's next Mars mission will have a helicopter onboard.
NASA officials said a dedicated rotorcraft will reach the Red Planet's surface attached to the car-sized rover. "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". If successful, it would be the first time humanity has deployed a helicopter on another planet.
It has a fuselage that's about the size of a softball, solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries and a heating mechanism to keep it warm through Martian nights that can get far colder than 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Those commands will take several minutes to reach the helicopter from Earth, so it will need some autonomous capabilities to make sure it can fly on its own, without anyone controlling it in real time.
In a statement issued late May 11, the space agency said it will include the Mars Helicopter on the Mars 2020 rover mission, where it will perform a series of test flights over the course of a month. (1.8-kg) Mars Helicopter will be a second major technology demonstration conducted during the Mars 2020 mission, which is scheduled for launch in July 2020 and a February 2021 landing.
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.
Up to five flights are planned over the 30-day test campaign, starting with a flight where the helicopter will ascent to an altitude of three meters and hover for 30 seconds.
Then, it will attempt to make its historic, autonomous first flight.
The helicopter has been in development since 2013, and has been considered as a potential candidate to launch to Mars, but it's finally received official confirmation that it will ride in the "belly panel" of Mars 2020 until the rover touches down. One of the rover's key tasks will be to collect samples of Martian rock and soil that could be returned to Earth during a follow-up mission. If it does not work, the Mars 2020 mission will not be impacted.
"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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