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Mars helicopter drone installed on NASA's next Red Planet Rover



The first off-earth helicopter ever connected to its travel companion.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers in Pasadena, California, have connected the tiny Mars helicopter to the agency's helicopter-powered Mars 2020 Rover today (August 28), officials said the agency with.

The duo will launch together in July 2020 and launch in February 2021 in the Jezero Crater of the Red Planet. (1.8 kilograms) Helicopters will detach and fly test missions.

Related: NASA's Mars Rover 2020 mission in pictures (gallery)

"Our job is to prove this autonomous, controlled flight can be in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere The project manager of Mars Helicopter of JPL said in a statement (The air of Mars is only 1

% as dense as the Earth at sea level.)

"Since our helicopter is designed as a flight test for experimental technologies, carries he does not use scientific instruments, "she added," but if we prove that powered flight can function on Mars, we look forward to the day when Mars helicopters can play an important role in future explorations of the Red Planet. "[Forexamplehelicopters could serve as scouts for robots or human pioneers on Mars. Red Planet rotorcraft could also carry instruments and a series of eggplanes scientific work, says NASA.

Mas 2020, which will soon be given a catchier nickname through a student name contest, will search for signs of long-dead people The life of the Red Planet in Jezero Crater, where a river delta lived in antiquity. The rover will also characterize the geology of the site, collecting and buffering samples for future return to Earth, and demonstrating equipment that, among other things, generates oxygen from the carbon dioxide-dominated Martian air.

"With this connection between two large spaceships, I can definitely say that all the pieces are there for a historical reconnaissance mission," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Deputy Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA's Washington, DC headquarters, in the same statement. "Together, Mars 2020 and the Mars helicopter will determine the future of science and exploration of the Red Planet for decades to come."

NASA plans to launch another rotary wing aircraft soon – Dragonfly will fly through the dense atmosphere of Titan's giant Saturn moon, the life-hunting dragonfly is set to take off in 2026 and land on the Titan's icy surface in 2034.

Mike Walls book on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, " Out There "(Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate ), is available now Tell him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook .


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