NASA plans to fly a helicopter on Mars Video

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It will mark mankind's first attempt to fly an aircraft in an alien atmosphere.

While the helicopter has been deemed a high-risk, high-reward operation, NASA employees say that if it fails, it will not impact the 2020 mission.

The helicopter is the result of four years of testing and redesigning a standard helicopter to shrink it down to an object that weighs a little less than four pounds. The robot will give scientists a bird's eye view of the surface of the red planet. "The atmosphere of Mars is only one percent that of Earth, so when our helicopter is on the Martian surface, it's already at the Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet up", Mimi Aung, the Mars Helicopter project manager stated. It also has twin blades spinning ten times as fast as an average helicopter at 3,000 rpm.

"NASA has a proud history of firsts", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement.

The helicopter will ride with the rover attached to its underbelly, notes the report.


The space agency is looking to make history by sending the autonomous rotorcraft into the skies on the Red planet. The helicopter contains a heating mechanism to keep it warm during frigid nights and solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries. After the rover lands, it will place the helicopter on the ground and move away.

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.

On the first test flight, NASA intends to have the helicopter climb 10 feet into the air and hover for 30 seconds.

The Mars Helicopter and the Mars 2020 rover will be carried into space by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V, scheduled to take off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. "Instead, we have an autonomous capability that will be able to receive and interpret commands from the ground, and then fly the mission on its own".

A successful test could open the door to using helicopters as scouts on future missions, surveying terrain that might be hard for rovers to navigate and even accessing locations that are unreachable via ground travel. 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.

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