Tiny Mars helicopter could make first aircraft launch from another planet

13 May, 2018, 10:30 | Author: Becky Perry
  • Enlarge Image This illustration shows what the Mars Helicopter might look like as it readies for takeoff.                  NASA

NASA will send a small autonomous flying machine to survey the Martian landscape in their 2020 mission along with their new rover.

The Mars Helicopter will hitch a ride on the Mars 2020 rover and become the first aircraft to fly on an alien planet.

To rise into the Mars' thin atmosphere, the helicopter's two counter-rotating blades will turn at almost 3,000 revolutions per minute, or more than 10 times as fast as a helicopter's blades on Earth, NASA says.

The helicopter consists of solarcells to charge its lithium-ion batteries and also a heating mechanism to keep it warm throughout frigid evenings. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. Scientists want to test the way "heavier air" vehicles will operate on the red planet, a NASA spokesman said.

The helicopter looks like "a medium-size cubic tissue box,"according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, California, which designed it".

The helicopter is supposed to be used to achieve points on the surface of Mars, where you will not be able to get the Rover.

The helicopter's twin blades will whirl at about 10 times the rate of a helicopter's blades on Earth - at 3,000 rpm - to stay aloft in Mars' thin atmosphere. Controllers on the planet will control the helicopter to shoot its initial autonomous airport after its batteries have been charged and evaluations are all ran, NASA explained. The space agency announced Friday that the helicopter will be carried aboard the Mars 2020 rover as a technology demonstration to test its ability to serve as a scout and to reach locations not accessible by ground.

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"The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet".

"We don't have a pilot and Earth will be several light minutes away, so there is no way to joystick this mission in real time", said Aung.

NASA says it hopes to fly the aircraft incrementally father and longer in the four subsequent test flights, with distances up to a few hundred meters and durations as long as 90 seconds.

"The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling", he added.

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.

According to Bridenstine, the success of the "marscopter" may enable more ambitious missions in the future.

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