NASA flying helicopter to Mars using remote control

Enlarge Image This illustration shows what the Mars Helicopter might look like as it readies for takeoff.                  NASA

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been working on the helicopter for over four years, but they were on the fence about actually sending it to Mars, but they have now made the decision to make it a part of the 2020 mission.

The small, lightweight Mars Helicopter will demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.

"The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers", said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency headquarters in Washington.

Once the helicopter is transported to Mars by way of the rover, it will begin flying around the planet on its own. "The Mars Helicopter holds much guarantee for our future scientific research, exploration, as well as expedition objectives to Mars".

The idea was started in August 2013 as a technology development project.

They further informed that it took 4 years for the team to design, test and redesign the Marscopter that weighs in at little under four pounds (1.8 kilograms). Blades will spin at 3,000 rpm, 10 times the speed of a helicopter on Earth. Solar cells will charge the tiny drone during the day, and an internal heater will help it endure the cold Martian nights.

"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 up", said Mimi Aung, Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL. The Martian atmosphere is so thin that the altitude of the helicopter at takeoff on Mars already corresponds to an altitude of 30,500 meters on Earth.

Attached to the Mars Rover, the chopper will be dropped at a suitable place from where it will try to take off.

After the helicopter is placed on the ground the rover will be directed to drive to a safe distance to relay commands.

The helicopter will be shuttled to Mars on board a rocket arriving in 2020, but once there it is created to be able to take off autonomously on a series of short flights. "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. When the vagabond come down on the earth's surface area, it will certainly after that locate a great location to put down the helicopter, release it, and afterwards roll away. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper.

Related news: