NASA helicopter to fly on Mars during next mission

NASA helicopter to fly on Mars during next mission

The Mars Helicopter, which will no doubt undergo a name change when NASA sets up a contest for school children, will be a technology demonstrator to determine how aerial drones will fly on the Red Planet.

Tipping the scales at a little under four pounds (1.8 kilograms), the Mars Helicopter is quite small - its fuselage is no bigger than a softball, NASA pointed out.

NASA said the blades of the small helicopter, which has a softball-sized fuselage, would maintain an RPM of almost 3,000, about 10 times that of helicopters on Earth. Controllers from Earth will deliver commands to the helicopter to take its first autonomous flight after its batteries are charged and tests are conducted.

If Mars Helicopter works, it will constitute another space first for NASA, the first flight on another world.

NASA's next Mars mission will have a helicopter onboard.

Nasa is working toward a future when humans will walk on the surface of Mars.

The Mars Helicopter will bear no resemblance to the ones that hover nearly constantly in the skies above Los Angeles and tracking auto chases.

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The helicopter was particularly conceived for use on Mars featuring solar cells to charge its batteries, a heating mechanism for cold Martian nights and counter-rotating blades that function at 3,000 rpm, 10 times faster than helicopters on Earth. It is specifically created to fly in the atmosphere of Mars, which is 100 times thinner than Earth's.

Dubbed the Mars Helicopter, or "marscopter", the small aircraft will accompany the Mars 2020 rover in its exploration of the Martian landscape and be the first heavier-than-air vehicle made on Earth to fly on another planet.

NASA said it plans a 30-day flight test period that will include up to five flights, starting with a short vertical jaunt to hover for about 30 seconds at an altitude of 10 feet (3 metres) and progressing to flight distances up to a few hundred yards and durations up to 90 seconds. However, since Mars's atmosphere is just 1 percent of Earth's, a helicopter that's just sitting on the surface of the Red Planet is already at the equivalent of 100,000 feet on Earth.

"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.

We can wait for what the Mars 2020 mission will explore the Red Planet.

"The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers", said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, in the statement.

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