When NASA launches its next rover to Mars, the vehicle will take a small helicopter with it. NASA announced today that it will be shipping a small autonomous flying helicopter – aka Mars helicopter – on the upcoming Mars 2020 Rover. The helicopter will try to fly through the Martian air to see if vehicles can even float on Mars, where the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than Earth's.
The design for the Mars Helicopter has been in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA for the past four years, but the space agency had not yet decided whether it would actually send the vehicle to Mars. NASA needed to find out if this technology was actually feasible and if, according to Spaceflight Now the agency had enough money in its budget to accommodate the helicopter. Now the agency seems to have decided that this copter idea might actually work.
But even if the helicopter can not fly, it will not affect the entire mission of the Mars 2020 Rovers ̵
The engineers at JPL have been working to pinpoint the weight and shape of the helicopter so it can fly through the thin Martian air. The tallest helicopter has flown on Earth is 40,000 feet high. But according to NASA, the Mars helicopter will fly in an atmosphere as thin as 100,000 feet on Earth. So the robot has to be tiny and light: it only weighs 1.8 kg on the ground and is about the size of a softball. The copter also has double blades that rotate 10 times faster than the helicopter here on our planet.
The Mars helicopter is supposed to fly attached to the bottom of the Mars 2020 Rover. Once the rover lands on the planet's surface, he'll find a good place to drop the helicopter, insert it, and then roll it away. At some point the helicopter will try to take off, and he has to make the flight alone. Since the Earth is so far from Mars, it will take a few minutes to send the helicopter commands. Ultimately, the vehicle will attempt to perform five autonomous flights over a period of 30 days; the tours could take up to 90 seconds.
"NASA has a proud history of premieres," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement on Friday afternoon, in the middle of SpaceX's launch of Block 5. "The idea of a helicopter making the sky one The Mars helicopter is promising for our future research, reconnaissance and reconnaissance missions on Mars. "
The Mars 2020 rover is set to launch on an Atlas V rocket from the United Launch Alliance of Cape Canaveral , Florida in July 2020. The spacecraft will land on Mars in February 2021.