NASA’s Mars Helicopter That Will Travel To The Red Planet With The Mars 2020 Rover

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The Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration that will travel to the Red Planet with the Mars 2020 rover. It will attempt controlled flight in Mars’ thin atmosphere, which may enable more ambitious missions in the future.

source/image: NASA Jet P.L

The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

source/image: NASA Jet P.L

Started in August 2013 as a technology development project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Mars Helicopter had to prove that big things could come in small packages.

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The result of the team’s four years of design, testing and redesign weighs in at little under four pounds (1.8 kilograms). Its fuselage is about the size of a softball, and its twin, counter-rotating blades will bite into the thin Martian atmosphere at almost 3,000 rpm – about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth.

In the future, NASA could deploy more drones to better assess the Martian surface or help guide the astronauts over obstacles during a human mission. Or, who knows, maybe they’ll help astronauts take selfies.The mission, called Mars 2020 because it’s scheduled to leave Earth in July 2020, is the sequel to the Curiosity rover, which landed in Mars’s Gale Crater in 2012.