The Hush Post: NASA will send a small helicopter to Mars as part of the US space agency’s 2020 mission. The remote controlled helicopter will be designed to take flight on the thin atmosphere of Mars.
The Mars 2020 rover mission is all set to launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It will reach Mars after seven months in February 2021.
The rover will carry out geological studies and also ascertain the habituation possibilities in the Martian environment.
The chopper will have twin counter rotating blades, weighing about four pounds (1.8) kilos with a fuselage of the size of volleyball.
Its blades will spin at 3,000 rpm, roughly 10 times that on Earth.
NASA officials said the rotorcraft will reach Martian surface attached to the car-sized rover.
After dropping the chopper on the surface, the rover will be directed to drive to a safe distance to issue commands. Controllers on Earth will command the chopper to take its first autonomous flight after its batteries are charged and tests are carried out.
“The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
“The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet (12,200 metres). The atmosphere of Mars is only one per cent that of Earth, so when our helicopter is on the Martian surface, it’s already at the Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet (30,480 metres) up,” Mimi Aung, the Mars Helicopter project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.
NASA 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.