NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars to get a chicken ’s-eye view of the planet
NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars to get a chicken ’s-eye view of the planet

When NASA launches its next rover to Mars, the vehicle can have a small helicopter alongside for the trip. NASA introduced today that it is going to be sending a small autonomous flying chopper — aptly named the Mars Helicopter — with the impending Mars 2020 rover. The helicopter will attempt to fly during the Martian air to peer if automobiles may even levitate on Mars, the place the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than that of Earth.

The layout for the Mars Helicopter has been in the works for the last 4 years at NASA ’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, however the house company had but to come to a decision if it was once actually going to send the car to Mars. NASA needed to decide if this technology was in fact feasible and if the agency had enough money in its funds to incorporate the copter, in line with Spaceflight Now. Now it sort of feels that the agency has decided that this copter concept could in reality paintings.

However even if the helicopter fails to fly, it received ’t have an effect on the total mission of the Mars 2020 rover — the successor to NASA ’s Curiosity rover that’s already on the Crimson Planet ’s floor. but when the Mars Helicopter does certainly fly, it ’ll give you the chance to seize a rare fowl ’s-eye-view of Mars with its two cameras, something that ’s by no means been performed earlier than. And that can mean it ’s conceivable to send long run flying vehicles to Mars to scout out locations that are laborious to get right of entry to.

Engineers at JPL had been operating to get the burden and form of the helicopter good, so that it could possibly fly through the skinny Mars air. the top any helicopter has flown on earth is 40,000 toes prime. but the Mars Helicopter might be flying in an atmosphere that ’s as skinny as altitudes of 100,000 ft on the earth, in step with NASA. So the robot has to be tiny and light-weight: it weighs in at simply four kilos (1.8 kilograms) on the earth and is set the dimensions of a softball. The copter also sports activities dual blades that rotate 10 times sooner than helicopter ’s here on our planet.

The plan is for the Mars Helicopter to fly connected to the underside of the Mars 2020 rover. Once the rover lands on the planet ’s floor, it is going to then discover a excellent position to set down the copter, deploy it, after which roll away. Eventually, the helicopter will try to take off, and it ’ll have to do the flight utterly on its personal, too. Considering Earth is so far away from Mars, it’s going to take several minutes to ship the helicopter instructions. Ultimately, the vehicle will attempt to do five independent flights over a 30-day length; the journeys could ultimate up to 90 seconds.

“NASA has a proud historical past of firsts,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine mentioned in a press release on Friday afternoon, within the center of SpaceX ’s Block FIVE launch. “the speculation of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future technological know-how, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.”

The Mars 2020 rover is slated to launch on most sensible of an Atlas V rocket, made via the United Launch Alliance, from Cape Canaveral, Florida in July 2020. The spacecraft will then land on Mars in February of 2021.