The Wright brothers first came to Kill's heaven
Devil Hill, North Carolina, December 17, 1903, the first flights were important
Milestones in the life of a vehicle designed for air travel. After all, it is
One thing to design an airplane and fly on paper – or computer. It is quite different to put all the pieces
and watch them getting up off the floor.
At the end of January 2019 were all parts of the flight
Model (actual vehicle driving to the red planet) of the Mars helicopter of NASA
put to the test.
Weighing no more than 4 kilograms (1.8 kilograms) is the
helicopter is a technology demonstration project currently running through the US
a rigorous verification process that certified it for Mars.
The majority of the tests the flight model is performing are in progress
By showing how it can work on Mars, including how
It works at Mars-like temperatures. Can the helicopter survive ̵
– in cold temperatures, even at night with minus degrees
130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius)?
All of these tests are focused on February 2021 when the
The helicopter will reach the surface of the red planet, which is firmly under the planet
Belly of the Mars 2020 Rover. A few months later it is used and test flights are carried out
(for up to 90 seconds)
start – the
first from the surface of another world.
"We are ready for the first flight on Mars
Over 75 minutes of flight time logged with a design model
Close approach to our helicopter, "said MiMi Aung, project manager
for the Mars helicopter at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"But this recent test of the model was the real deal, this is our helicopter
on Mars. We had to see that it worked as advertised. "
While helicopters fly, this is commonplace on Earth
Hundreds of millions of miles away in the thin Martian atmosphere
is something completely different. And create the right test conditions here
There are a number of challenges on Earth.
"The Martian atmosphere is only about one percent
"The density of the earth," said Aung. "Our test flights could be similar
atmospheric density here on earth
– if you set up your airfield at 30,480 meters altitude. So you can not
go somewhere and find that. You have to do it.
That's exactly what Aung and her Mars helicopter team did in JPL's Space
Simulator, a vacuum chamber of 25 feet (7.62 m) width. First the team
creates a vacuum that sucks out all the nitrogen, oxygen and other gases
the air inside the mammoth cylinder. In their place, the team injected carbon
Dioxide, the main constituent of the Martian atmosphere.
"Our helicopter gets extremely thin
Atmosphere is only part of the challenge, "said Teddy Tzanetos
Conductor for the Mars helicopter at JPL. "To be able to continue flying
Mars, we have to take away two-thirds of Earth's gravity because of the gravity of Mars
is much weaker. "
The team achieved this with a gravity unloading system – a motorized lanyard that was attached to the top of
The helicopter should deliver a continuous train equal to two-thirds
The gravity of the earth. While the team understandably dealt with it, like that
The helicopter would prevail on its first flight
the gravity relief system would work.
"The gravity unloading system worked perfectly.
Just like our helicopter, "said Tzanetos. We only needed 5 cm.
Hover to get all the datasets needed to confirm our Mars helicopter
flies autonomously in a thin Martian atmosphere; there was no
have to go higher. It was a true first flight.
The first flight of the Mars helicopter followed
Second the following day in the vacuum chamber. Logging a grand total of 1
Minute flight time at a height of 2 inches (5 centimeters), more than 1,500
Single pieces made of carbon fiber, flyaluminum, silicone, copper, foil
and foam have proven that they can work together as a coherent unit.
"Next time we fly, we will fly to Mars," said
Aung. "I watch our helicopter go through its steps in the chamber, me
I had to think about the historic vehicles that were in there
the past. The chamber hosted missions from the Ranger Moon probes to the
Voyagers to Cassini and every Mars rover that ever flew. To see our helicopter
I remembered that we are on the way to making a little piece of space history
The Mars helicopter project
at JPL in Pasadena, California, manages helicopter development for the
Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
The Mars helicopter will start as technology
Demonstrator with Mars
2020 Rover on an Atlas V rocket from the United Launch Alliance in July 2020 from space
Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It is expected
to reach Mars in February 2021.
2020 Rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing on Mars,
Determine the habitability of the environment, look for signs of antiquity
Mars lives and assess natural resources and dangers for future humans
Explorer Scientists will use the instruments aboard the Rover to identify it
Collect samples of rock and soil, wrap them in sealed tubes and let them
on the surface of the planet for a possible return to Earth on a future Mars mission.
The Mars 2020 project
at JPL in Pasadena, California, manages rover development for science
Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. Launch Services Program of NASA
The Agency's Kennedy Space Center is responsible for launching the agency
For more information on NASA's Mars missions, see:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, 19459008
NASA Headquarters, Washington