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Autonomous helicopter joins its rover buddy for the Mars 2020 mission



  The helicopter rover Mars 2020 has joined pia23153. 1600x1200 1
Members of the NASA Mars helicopter team attach a thermal film to the exterior of the Mars helicopter's flight model. The image was taken on February 1, 2019 in the Space Simulator, a 25 foot (7.62 meter wide) vacuum chamber at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

NASA has a bold plan to send not only a rover, but also a helicopter to Mars as part of its mission Mars 2020. The autonomous Mars helicopter, which NASA hopes will be the first aircraft to fly flying on another planet, has successfully passed his flight tests as well as his vacuum and field tests. Now the helicopter is attached to the Mars 2020 rover to fly to the red planet.

The rover was mounted on a plate on the rover's belly and covered by a shield to protect the sensitive machine from stones and other debris released during entry and landing on Mars. Once the vehicle lands safely, the helicopter will emerge behind its shield and be sent to the skies to explore the Jezero Crater region around the landing zone.

Since the helicopter is an extremely experimental device, the engineers have won. & # 39; Do not rely on collecting important scientific data. Instead, the Mars mission will serve as a real test of the helicopter's reliability so that NASA can see if it can move around the planet despite the thin atmosphere. If successful, engineers can use their knowledge to build next-generation helicopters for future missions.

"Our job is to prove that autonomous, controlled flight can be performed in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere," said MiMi Aung, the Mars helicopter project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. "Because our helicopter is designed as a flight test for experimental technologies, it contains no scientific instruments. But if we prove that a powered flight on Mars works, we look forward to the day when Mars helicopters can play an important role in future exploration of the Red Planet. "

The main benefit of a helicopter and a rover is that an airplane can explore locations that are not accessible from the ground. This includes maneuvering around geographic features such as cliffs, chasms, and caves for a more detailed view of the Martian environment. In the future, helicopters could also collect data from distant locations with scientific equipment or be used as scouts to survey a region from human or robotic researchers.

Now we have to wait and see how the first helicopter for an extraterrestrial environment flies into the opening mission. The launch of the Mars 2020 mission is scheduled for July next year.

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