NASA Planning To Debut New Helicopter For Mars Mission

Enlarge Image This illustration shows what the Mars Helicopter might look like as it readies for takeoff.                  NASA

Enlarge Image This illustration shows what the Mars Helicopter might look like as it readies for takeoff. NASA

The helicopter will be shuttled to Mars on board a rocket arriving in 2020, but once there it is created to be able to take off autonomously on a series of short flights.

These images released by NASA show the surface of Mars. After that the helicopter will be on its own; flying independently.

"It's fitting that the USA is the first nation in history to fly the first heavier-than-air craft on another world", said Representative John Culberson (Texas).

Jim Bridenstine in a statement conveyed, "The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling". 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.

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The Mars Helicopter's development began in 2013 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

The aircraft is expected to reach the Red Planet in February 2021, more than half a year after its July 2020 launch.

"After the Wright Brothers proved 117 years ago that powered, sustained, and controlled flight was possible here on Earth, another group of American pioneers may prove the same can be done on another world", Zurbuchen added.

"The elevation record for a helicopter flying on the planet is about 40,000 feet (12,200 meters)". It should collect information about the habitability of the planet, search for traces of earlier life and explore mineral resources.

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Another obstacle was powering the vehicle so far away. The solar cells are used for charging up the vehicle in the sunlight.

NASA officials also added that the rotorcraft will land on Mars attached to a car-sized rover.

The remote-controlled Mars Helicopter is created to take flight in the thin Martian atmosphere with twin counter-rotating blades. After placing the helicopter on the ground, the rover will be directed to drive to a safe distance to relay commands.

Then it will attempt to make its historic, autonomous first flight.

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"We don't have a pilot, and Earth will be several light-minutes away, so there is no way to joystick this mission in real time", Aung said.

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