Tiny Mars helicopter could make first aircraft launch from another planet

Olive Hawkins
May 13, 2018

What will the Mars Helicopter do?

"NASA has a proud history of firsts", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement.

NASA says this is to demonstrate "the viability and potential" of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.

The helicopter is supposed to be used to achieve points on the surface of Mars, where you will not be able to get the Rover.

A remote-controlled helicopter to Mars Helicopter weighs 1.8 kg and the size of a small ball. Its blades will spin at nearly 3,000 rpm, roughly 10 times the rate employed by helicopters on Earth. The thin air at the surface of Mars is the equivalent of being 100,000 feet above Earth - well beyond the limits of terrestrial helicopters - although the weaker gravity helps.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has scrutinised Mars surface through several miniature dune buggies but now, they are looking forward to getting a birds-eye view of the planet. The helicopter will certainly try to fly with the Martian air to see if cars could also rise on Mars, where the ambience is 100 times thinner compared to that of Planet.

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The helicopter is meant to demonstrate the viability and usefulness of such aircraft on Mars, NASA said, with potential roles as a low-flying scout or to reach locations inaccessible from the ground.

After the rover lands, it will place the helicopter on the ground and retreat to a safe distance. Controllers on the planet will control the helicopter to shoot its initial autonomous airport after its batteries have been charged and evaluations are all ran, NASA explained.

"To make it fly at that low atmospheric density, we had to scrutinize everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and as powerful as it can possibly be", she said.

The aerial vehicle will come equipped with solar panels that will recharge its lithium-ion batteries and a heating unit to allow it to survive the Martian nights. Mars is about 20 light minutes away from Earth.

Soon after being deployed on the Red Planet by the Mars 2020 rover, the small aircraft will make history with its first autonomous flight: a vertical climb to 10 feet (3 meters), where it will hover for about 30 seconds.

The pioneering helicopter is created to take things to another level and "prove that big things can come in small packages", said NASA.

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