NASA intends to send a small helicopter on Mars

Enlarge ImageA Mars Helicopter prototype undergoes some testing on Earth.                  Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser  CNET

If the marscopter works, it will open up a new way of looking at the Red Planet by giving the rover and NASA scientists back on Earth an eye in the sky.

The Mar's helicopter carries twin blades, which whirls about ten times the blades of the aircraft on the Earth's surface.

The remote-controlled Mars Helicopter, created to take flight in the thin Martian atmosphere with twin counter-rotating blades, weighs about four pounds (1.8 kilograms), with a fuselage the size of a softball, NASA said.

According to NASA employees, at the moment, the experts identified the main scientific tasks for the helicopter, but the idea of flying such a device on another planet is just fascinating.

Sometime after landing on Mars, the rover will place the helicopter on the ground and drive a safe distance away.

Nasa is sending a helicopter to Mars, in the first test of a heavier-than-air aircraft on another planet.

"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, Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, says in a statement. The helicopter will recharge its lithium-ion batteries between flights with solar cells.

The Mars 2020 rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and reach Mars in February 2021.

Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom (hand) misses Game 1 against Lightning
Jets (C2)- The Stanley Cup Final hasn't gone to seven games since 2011, but if this was the final, it could easily get to that. San Jose was ousted by Vegas in six games in the Pacific Division finals and the Penguins, of course, lost to Washington .

Is it insane to think we can fly a helicopter on another planet?

Unlike NASA's other rovers, the InSight Mars lander is a stationary probe that is created to examine Mars's interior and study how tectonically active it is. At a meeting of the National Academies' Space Studies Board May 3, Ken Farley, project scientist for Mars 2020, said he and others on the mission had concerns about flying that technology demonstration.

The helicopter faces a number of technical challenges, including being able to generate lift in atmospheric densities equivalent to an altitude of 30 kilometers on Earth, more than double the altitude record for a conventional helicopter.

For its trip to Mars, the helicopter will be packed on the underside of the rover. That would fill in some gaps between the rover's close-to-the-ground camera perspective and the long-distance view we get from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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

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

"I am not an advocate for the helicopter and I don't believe the Mars 2020 project has been an advocate for the helicopter", he added.

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