Saturday, 18 August, 2018

NASA plans to send a helicopter to Mars

NASA plans autonomous helicopters to land on Mars in 2020 NASA will send tiny helicopter to Mars
Frank Williams | 15 May, 2018, 19:15

Aerospace Agency of the USA (NASA) and European space Agency (ESA) are working on an ambitious project to deliver to Earth soil and rocks from Mars.

The launch of the Mars helicopter will help make up for sme of the drawbacks of heavier-than-air vehicles as we take steps to further explore the Red Planet. "It's fitting that the United States of America is the first nation in history to fly the first heavier-than-air craft on another world", Culberson said.

In order to design a flying vehicle that would actually work on another planet, NASA scientists faced a number of challenges. However, it's no secret that these rovers are not the most agile of tools nor are they the easiest to maneuver through the rocky terrains of Mars.

The small rotorcraft weighs just 4 pounds and is about the size of a softball.

In addition to packing in a huge amount of power into a small and unassuming body, the Mars helicopter is equipped with solar cells that will allow it to charge itself with sunlight as well as a built-in hearing instrument to keep it running seamlessly on cold Martian nights.

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

The mission will also test a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying available resources, understanding the weather and other characteristics that will affect manned missions to the red planet. Twin counter-rotating blades will spin at nearly 3,000 rpm, created to counteract Mars' thin atmosphere.

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The miniature aircraft will spin its rotors at about ten times the speed of a terrestrial one, due to the extremely low density of Mars' atmosphere - only about one percent of Earth's.

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

Flights will be programed because the distance to Mars precludes real-time commands from Earth.

Because of its enormous distance - Earth will be several minutes away, traveling at the speed of light - Aung said that direct control will be impossible. If this little helicopter works as intended, it will set the stage for future, more complex rotorcrafts created to act as scouts that can explore and map regions of Mars where scientists can't even dream to send a rover. NASA is planning as many as five flights over a 30-day test campaign. On its first flight, the vehicle will make a short vertical climb to 10 feet (3 meters) and remain there for 30 seconds before landing.

That said, it is also worth noting that NASA has said if the flight demonstration is not successful, there won't be any effect on how the next Mars rover goes about its job.

The Mars 2020 is expected to in July 2020 and to reach Mars in February 2021. "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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