With Mars In Sight [VIDEO] having departed for the Red Planet for a late November landing, NASA is preparing for the Mars 2020 rover, an enhanced version of the Mars Curiosity that is now rolling about the Martian surface. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine [VIDEO] announced on Twitter that the Mars 2020 would have another enhancement.
NASA announced May 11 that it will fly a small helicopter as a technology demonstration on its next Mars rover, despite concerns from some on the project that it could be a distraction.
Once the Mars Helicopter has landed on the surface of Mars, controllers back on Earth will command it to take its first autonomous flight. Court blocks delay to auto efficiency fines MORE said in a statement.
The helicopter has been in development since 2013, and has been considered as a potential candidate to launch to Mars, but it's finally received official confirmation that it will ride in the "belly panel" of Mars 2020 until the rover touches down. In tests he successfully rose to a height in excess of 12 km, this means that on Mars the Mars Helicopter can fly at an altitude of over 30 km.
Double screw Mars Helicopter is able to rotate at a speed 10 times the speed of the earth's helicopters.
For months, mission planners and scientists have been debating whether it'd be worth flying the 4-pound rotorcraft for a 30-day test campaign. NASA also packed in a heating mechanism to help the drone survive the frigid Mars nights.
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This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle on Vera Rubin Ridge, Mars. "The atmosphere of Mars is only 1 percent that of Earth, so when our helicopter is on the Martian surface, it's already at the Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet up". The mission is scheduled to take off on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, and reach Mars in February 2021.
"NASA has a proud history of firsts", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
The aptly named Mars Helicopter is all primed to make history.
The National Aeronautical and Space Administration Center adds a new flavor to its next Mars 2020 rover mission.
The Mars Helicopter is considered a high-risk, high-reward project, according to NASA: If the helicopter fails, it won't affect the rest of the Mars 2020 rover's mission, but if it succeeds, the agency will have a powerful new tool to survey the planet and access now unreachable locations.
According to Bridenstine, the success of the "marscopter" may enable more ambitious missions in the future.