NASA Is Sending a Helicopter to Mars

NASA is sending an autonomous helicopter to the red planet. When the rover reaches Mars, the helicopter will be placed on the ground, and once the rover is moved to a safe distance, the helicopter will attempt a historical first launch, even though it is only planned for a height of 10 feet, where it will hover for 30 seconds. It's also limited to the open expanses of the planet. In tests he successfully rose to a height in excess of 12 km, this means that on Mars the Mars Helicopter can fly at an altitude of over 30 km.

A successful test could open the door to using helicopters as scouts on future missions, surveying terrain that might be hard for rovers to navigate and even accessing locations that are unreachable via ground travel.

The Mars helicopter will not be manned, but it will operate autonomously, in a way similar to a flying drone here on Earth.

But JPL has made sure that the Mars Helicopter has everything it needs to courageous the rough environment on the Red Planet. But the next one it will send there will carry a vehicle with a new approach for planetary exploration: a helicopter.

U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing NASA's budget, played up the flight demonstration's inspirational value.

In a press release, NASA said the Mars Helicopter is "considered a high-risk, high-reward project".

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A team of expert designers spent more than four years shrinking a working helicopter to just 1.8kg (4lbs) or roughly the size of a softball.

The helicopter was particularly conceived for use on Mars featuring solar cells to charge its batteries, a heating mechanism for cold Martian nights and counter-rotating blades that function at 3,000 rpm, 10 times faster than helicopters on Earth. The helicopter and rover are scheduled to launch in July 2020 and land on Mars seven months later.

"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", Zurbuchen added.

The surface of Mars: could these images prove LIFE exists on the Red Planet? But before the helicopter can fly at Mars it has to get there.

NASA sees Mars Helicopter as demonstrating the ability of such vehicles to serve as scouts for future rover missions. The Earth is too far away to control the Mars Helicopter remotely.


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