Unhappy with Rovers, NASA's next Mars mission will include a helicopter that will be the first human plane to fly around another planet, potentially paving the way for groundbreaking exploration on Mars and beyond.
The Mars 2020 Rover will land on the Red Planet with a small helicopter in early 2021 to test whether it can fly. Previously, Rover, Orbiter, and Lander were the only man-made objects to visit Mars.
The helicopter mission lasts 30 days and will consist of five flights, some of which will only conduct tests at a distance of only 10 meters from the ground.
If the first mission is successful, it could open up a whole new world of potential planetary exploration. At the moment, robot researchers have limited themselves to the surface of the red planet and can not reach every angle.
"We think helicopters open doors for new exploration types on Mars", Håvard Grip, flight control and aerodynamics lead the Mars helicopter. "In the future, we could imagine performing regional reconnaissance with multiple helicopters or using small helicopters to go into inaccessible or biologically sensitive areas."
The Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than the Earth, which means that a flight directly above the surface corresponds to a value of 100,000 feet in the Earth's atmosphere. Helicopters usually fly at a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed an ultra-light 4 kg helicopter and blades rotating at 3,000 rpm, ten times faster than most ordinary helicopters. It was approved for the Mars mission in May and is equipped with solar batteries and heating.
Not only the thin atmosphere poses a challenge to the helicopter, but the distance between Earth and Mars There would be a communication delay of at least a few minutes, so the helicopter must be able to fly by itself and in contact with the helicopter Rover to stay.
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