Nasa Will Send a Helicopter to the Red Planet
- May 16, 2018
Nasa is developing a small helicopter to study the landscape of Mars.
NASA will send a helicopter to fly on NASA’s next red planet rover mission in July 2020. The “Mars Helicopter,” as NASA calls it, is a small autonomous rotorcraft that will demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the red planet.
The craft will undergo a 30-day test campaign once it reaches the Red Planet to demonstrate the viability of travel above the Martian surface with a heavier-than-air craft.
“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” NASA’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said in a statement. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery and exploration missions to Mars.”
With NASA already having put a few electric vehicles on Mars, also called Mars rovers, the space agency now has efforts underway to ensure that a small electric helicopter is added to the mission which is scheduled to launch in barely 2 years.
The electric helicopter will be affixed to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover. The helicopter will be powered by lithium-ion batteries which will get charged with the help of built-in solar cells. The drone weighs less than 1.8 kilograms and is about the size of a softball.
The helicopter will also have a heating system which will keep it warm during the cold nights on Mars.