Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Mars Helicopter to launch as part of Nasa's 2020 mission

Mars Helicopter to launch as part of Nasa's 2020 mission

The new Rover, which the Americans hope to build for 1.5 years and run on the Red planet in the summer of 2020, will collect samples of soil and stones, tightly pack them into capsules and leave on the surface along the way.

As for how feasible it is to build the drone, NASA's director of robotic Mars exploration Jim Watzin said that it has performed nearly 90 minutes of testing using a model within a Martian atmosphere test chamber.

Recently the National Aeronautics and Space Administration revealed their small, autonomous helicopter, which will be the first helicopter to be used on another planet.

The helicopter will ride to Mars attached to the rover's belly pan, officials said.

The helicopter is considered a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. The design features twin counter-rotating blades that spin at nearly 3,000 r.p.m.

The agency said in their statement if the technology demonstration doesn't work, the Mars 2020 mission won't be impacted - but if it does, "helicopters may have a real future as low-flying scouts and aerial vehicles to access locations not reachable by ground level".


The helicopter is equipped with "solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries, and a heating mechanism to keep it warm through the cold Martian nights".

The authors applied these results to a Martian environment: Based on how much rock is from acid environments on Mars, and assuming the concentration of fatty acids found in Martian sediments matches that of Earth, there might be up to 2.86×1010 kg of fatty acids preserved within Martin rock - equivalent to almost 12,000 Olympic-size pools.

Controllers on Earth will command the Mars Helicopter, which was created to receive and interpret commands from the ground.

The Mars Helicopter's development began in 2013 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. Instead, the machine is created to receive pre-programmed commands from Earth, then execute them on its own, always autonomously navigating the environment in real-time. For starters the 'copter will climb to 3 meters, hover for 30 seconds, then descend.

Scientists are studying acidic streams in Dorset due to their similarity to the environment of Mars billions of years ago. According to the number of rocks in the acidic environment of Mars, and assuming that the concentration of fatty acids in the Martian sediments is equivalent to the concentration of fatty acids on Earth, the mass of fatty acids preserved in Mars rocks may be as high as 28.6 million tons.

"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. It will attempt controlled flight in Mars' thin atmosphere, which may enable more ambitious missions in the future. Now, when we look for signs of life on Mars, we should refer to Dosa. "With the added dimension of a bird's-eye view from a 'marscopter, ' we can only imagine what future missions will achieve".

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