NASA has a helicopter sidekick that will help the Mars rover during 2020 mission
NASA never ceases to impress the world with the crazy scientific advancements it makes and considering they just got their biggest boost in funding in the recent years it doesn't really come as a surprise. The agency has just announced it has attached a mini helicopter to the Mars rover that's set for the Mars 2020 mission.
As if another space mission to Mars wasn’t bold enough, NASA has plans to send up the first off-earth helicopter to Mars.
The Mars 2020 mission, taking place in July of that year, is a mission to put a rover in the Jezero crater on Mars by 18 February 2021. The crater is have thought to have once have been flooded with water and may show signs of since-dead lifeforms.
The Mars Helicopter will be a mini vehicle that will house no scientific devices whatsoever apart from a few cameras. The purpose of the helicopter is to test whether future helicopters with more scientific capabilities would survive within the Martian atmosphere.
The Mars Helicopter being built
Once the rover is on Mars, it will detach from the helicopter, where the copter will begin flying test sorties.
MiMi Aung, Mars Helicopter Project Manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement that:
"Since our helicopter is designed as a flight test of experimental technology, it carries no science instruments," she added. "But if we prove powered flight on Mars can work, we look forward to the day when Mars helicopters can play an important role in future explorations of the Red Planet."
Since our helicopter is designed as a flight test of experimental technology, it carries no science instruments," she added. "But if we prove powered flight on Mars can work, we look forward to the day when Mars helicopters can play an important role in future explorations of the Red Planet."
It is hoped that helicopters like it will one day carry out a variety of scientific work, such as recording data and imagery in areas inaccessible to rovers.
The 2020 rover itself will characterise the crater’s geology, collect and cache samples for future return to Earth, and demonstrate gear that will generate oxygen within the Martin atmosphere.
The atmosphere of the Red Planet is around 1% the density of Earth’s and is very carbon dioxide rich.
This is not the first Martian mission or rover deployment. The first Mars mission was the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission, putting a satellite in orbit of the planet. There was then another satellite put into orbit in 2003, the Mars Express, and a failed lander called Beagle 2. There have since been a host of other orbits and landers put on the surface since 2005 to 2018.