NASA will send autonomous helicopter on Mars 2020 rover

Steve Phelps
May 13, 2018

It will mark mankind's first attempt to fly an aircraft in an alien atmosphere.

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

They further informed that it took 4 years for the team to design, test and redesign the Marscopter that weighs in at little under four pounds (1.8 kilograms).

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

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has scrutinised Mars surface through several miniature dune buggies but now, they are looking forward to getting a birds-eye view of the planet. On Mars, however, the atmosphere at the surface is comparable to the Earth's atmosphere at 100,000 feet.

The remote Mars Helicopter, created to carry flight in the thin Martian setting with twin counter-rotating bladesthat weighs about four pounds (1.8 kilograms), with a fuselage the size of a softball, NASA explained.

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For its trip to Mars, the helicopter will be packed on the underside of the rover.

" NASA has a honored background of firsts", NASA Manager Jim Bridenstine stated in a declaration on Friday mid-day, in the center of SpaceX's Block 5 launch. Now, it is certain that even if the helicopter fails to fly, it won't affect the mission of the Mars 2020 rover. NASA also packed in a heating mechanism to help the drone survive the frigid Mars nights. It will also have to be completely autonomous because commands take a long time to reach Mars from Earth.

On the first test flight, NASA intends to have the helicopter climb 10 feet into the air and hover for 30 seconds.

"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 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. If it does work, helicopters may have a real future as low-flying scouts and aerial vehicles to access locations not reachable by ground travel.

"We're very excited about this and the potential it has for opening up a whole new paradigm for how to explore Mars", said David Lavery, the program executive for solar system exploration at NASA headquarters.

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