Mars Helicopter to Fly on NASA's Next Red Planet Rover Mission

Enlarge ImageA Mars Helicopter prototype undergoes some testing on Earth.                  Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser  CNET

With Mars In Sight [VIDEO] having departed for the Red Planet for a late November landing, NASA is preparing for the Mars 2020 rover, an enhanced version of the Mars Curiosity that is now rolling about the Martian surface. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine [VIDEO] announced on Twitter that the Mars 2020 would have another enhancement.

To cope with that, the marscopter's twin counter-rotating blades will spin at nearly 3,000 revolutions per minute (rpm), nearly 10 times the rate of an Earth helicopter.

Designers at JPL have actually been functioning to obtain the weight and also form of the helicopter ideal, to make sure that it could fly via the slim Mars air.

Mars's atmosphere is 100 times thinner than the Earth's atmosphere, which could make flying a helicopter very hard.

"To make it fly at that [altitude], we had to scrutinize everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and as powerful as it can possibly be", she said.

NASA sees Mars Helicopter as demonstrating the ability of such vehicles to serve as scouts for future rover missions.

To get to the Red Planet from earth, this special chopper will be attached to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover.

After the Rover lands on the Mars in 2021, the helicopter will be dropped onto the ground in a suitable spot, where it can charge its batteries and do some pre-launch tests.

After its batteries are charged and tests are performed, controllers on Earth will command the helicopter to take its first autonomous flight. Given that Planet is until now far from Mars, it will certainly take numerous mins to send out the helicopter regulates.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been developing the helicopter since 2013, and eventually shrunk the fuselage to around the size of a softball to help make the drone viable.

Today NASA announced they'd be bringing their Mars Helicopter to Mars, officially. But the next mission will carry a vehicle with a new approach for planetary exploration: a helicopter. The atmosphere at Mars is very thin; about 1 percent of Earth's.

If the mission proves successful, helicopters will be used in future missions to planets to access locations not reachable by ground travel.

CAPE CANAVERAL-In one of his first decisions since joining NASA, newly named administrator Jim Bridenstine has opted to add a small autonomous helicopter to the Mars 2020 mission, a somewhat controversial choice that lacked support from project scientists. If it fails, it will not impact the Mars 2020 mission. It should collect information about the habitability of the planet, search for traces of earlier life and explore mineral resources.

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