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Mars 2020 Rover gets its helicopter sidekick



Work on the Mars 2020 Rover is getting hotter and heavier before the launch date of July / August 2020. The mission engineers have just fixed the Mars helicopter to the rover's belly, where he will begin the journey to Mars. Both the solar powered helicopter and the Mars Helicopter Delivery System are now attached to the Rover.

NASA's Mars Helicopter will be the first aircraft to fly on another planet. The small rotor boat weighs only 1.8 kg and consists of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. It is mostly a technology demonstration mission that is important to NASA. The overall mission for the Mars 2020 Rover does not depend on the helicopter, but NASA hopes to learn a lot about how it can tackle future aircraft missions by putting the Mars helicopter on Mars through its paces.

NASA is in no hurry to deploy the helicopter when the rover lands on Mars in February 2021. The helicopter and the delivery system will travel on the rover after landing in the Jezero Crater. Once they have found a suitable location for test flights, the helicopter is used.

"… we look forward to the day when Mars helicopters can play an important role in future exploration of the Red Planet."

MiMi Aung, Mars Helicopter Project Manager, JPL.

NASA says the Mars helicopter is a high-risk technology mission. If it works and is able to fly as planned, it will also be a high reward mission. The results will tell NASA much about the use of helicopters, and the production of helicopters after that will hopefully add an antenna component for future rover missions. This would open up many scientific and research opportunities in the future.

  An artistic representation of the Mars helicopter on the Martian surface. Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech
An artistic representation of the Mars helicopter on the Martian surface. Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

MiMi Aung is the Mars Helicopter Project Manager at JPL. In a press release, Aung said, "Our job is to prove that an autonomous, controlled flight can be made in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere. Since our helicopter is designed as a flight test of experimental technology, it carries no scientific instruments. However, if we prove that a powered flight is working on Mars, we look forward to the day when Mars helicopters can play an important role in future exploration of the Red Planet. "

Flying in the thin Martian atmosphere will be a challenge. Airplanes have to be super light what the Mars helicopter is. They also have to be autonomous, as there is no way to directly control them from such a great distance. However, with progress in AI, this obstacle is diminishing.

"Together, Mars 2020 and the Mars helicopter will determine the future of science and exploration of the Red Planet for decades."

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of science mission directorate at NASA

Small autonomous aircraft could be a Mars Enrich rover mission. You could investigate areas that are inaccessible to wheeled vehicles, such as caves, cliffs, and deep craters. They were able to take detailed pictures of potential airfields. They could act as scouts for the rover they travel with and possibly save time and energy for the rover. You could also wear small scientific instruments.

And they're likely to have applications no one has ever thought of before, and technology is not letting that happen yet.

A video of the Mars helicopter being tested in flight. NASA / JPL

Thomas Zurbuchen, Deputy Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, was right when he said, "Mars 2020 and the Mars helicopter will work together to determine the future of science and the exploration of the Red Planet for the United States Decades later. "

" The Wright brothers flew the first plane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but they built it in Dayton, "NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. "The Mars helicopter, the first aircraft to fly on another world, was built in Pasadena, California. Now connected to the 2020 Rover, it's another example of how NASA's Artemis generation extends the reach of humanity in our solar system.

The Jezero Crater is part of the area known as Syrtis Major Quadrangle. It was once flooded with water and contains a delta full of clays. Studies show that it was filled with water for a very long time; long enough for life to emerge and possibly survive, making it a prime target for the Mars 2020 Rover. The false-color image on the right shows minerals that indicate a chemical change by water. Picture credits: L: NASA / JPL / USGS. R: NASA / JPL / JHU-APL / MSSS / Brown University

The Mars 2020 Rover will be launched with an Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral. The main mission of the company is to look for habitability records in the ancient past of Mars. It will also look for clues to the past microbial life. The planned mission duration is one Martian year or 668 brines.

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