Friday, May 25, 2018

NASA Will Send a Helicopter on Upcoming Mars 2020 Rover Mission

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


 NASA officials announced that the agency will including a small, autonomous helicopter with the agency's upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission. After arriving at the Red Planet, the aircraft will undergo a 30-day test campaign in a demonstration of heavier-than-air transportation and science investigation.
 The Mars helicopter was first conceived back in 2013 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Weighing under 1.8 kilograms (4 lbs), the aircraft is about the size of a softball. It will carry solar cells to charge up and a heating mechanism to endure cold nights on Mars. To compensate for Mars' thin atmosphere, the craft's twin blades will whirl at about 10 times the rate of a helicopter's blades on Earth - at 3,000 rpm.
 "Exploring the Red Planet with NASA's Mars Helicopter exemplifies a successful marriage of science and technology innovation and is a unique opportunity to advance Mars exploration for the future," Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in the statement. "The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers," he added. "We already have great views of Mars from the surface as well as from orbit. With the added dimension of a bird's-eye view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future missions will achieve."
 Mars 2020 is slated to launch in July of that year on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission should then arrive at Mars in February 2021.

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