Sci-tech

NASA Just Unveiled This Awesome, Tiny Helicopter That Will Cruise Over Mars

NASA Just Unveiled This Awesome, Tiny Helicopter That Will Cruise Over Mars

The helicopter has been in development since 2013, and has been considered as a potential candidate to launch to Mars, but it's finally received official confirmation that it will ride in the "belly panel" of Mars 2020 until the rover touches down.

NASA said Friday it would send "an autonomous rotorcraft" along with a rover on a Mars 2020 mission.

"The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in the statement. After that, however, the helicopter will be on its own, flying autonomously.

The Mars Helicopter is being envisioned as a major advancement for future exploration of the planet, providing a new way of exploring areas of the Mars surface that are not easily accessible by land.

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. As according to Nasa, it weighs about four pounds (1.8 kilograms), with a fuselage the size of a softball, its blades will spin at nearly 3,000 rpm, roughly 10 times the rate employed by helicopters on Earth.

The helicopter is equipped with "solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries, and a heating mechanism to keep it warm through the cold Martian nights". It is specifically created to fly in the atmosphere of Mars, which is 100 times thinner than Earth's. The robotic explorer will use its arm to remove the helicopter and place it on the ground before moving to a safe distance. Then the rover will move away, and the aerial vehicle will conduct a series of at least five flight tests over 30 days of more and more further distances, up to 100 meters. This is meant to demonstrate the viability and usefulness of such aircraft on Mars.

According to NASA, the helicopter will first carry out a series of system checks before attempting its first flight, which will consist of raising itself to an altitude of 10 ft (3 m) and hovering for 30 seconds before returning to solid ground.

According to the source, the Mars Helicopter will be bundled with the United States space agency's Mars rover when it launches in 2020.

These images released by NASA show the surface of Mars.

"We already have great views of Mars from the surface as well as from orbit.With the added dimension of a bird's-eye view from a 'marscopter, ' we can only imagine what future missions will achieve". It's expected to reach the planet on February 2021. The rover is created to carry out geological studies and ascertain the habitability of the Martian environment, NASA said.

He added, though, that Mars 2020 has worked to accommodate the helicopter, and was not concerned about any technical risk to the mission from it.


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