Nasa to send helicopter to Mars as part of 2020 mission

Уфологи обнаружили на Марсе мертвого пришельца принесенного в жертву

U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing NASA's budget, played up the flight demonstration's inspirational value.

"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 said at the meeting.

The idea for the Mars Helicopter began in 2013 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory when researchers began to experiment with designs.

Known as the Mars Helicopter, the remote-controlled device weighs less than four pounds (1.8kg) and its blades spin at nearly 3,000rpm, roughly 10 times the rate employed by helicopters on Earth. During the flight demonstrations, the helicopter's twin, counter-rotating blades will cut through the Martian atmosphere at nearly 3,000 rpm-about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth.

When the Mars 2020 mission sends a rover to the Red Planet, there will also be a helicopter sent with it to fly around Mars and take photos.

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

The softball-sized helicopter has solar cells that will charge lithium-ion batteries and a heating mechanism to keep it warm during the cold Martian nights.

NASA sees Mars Helicopter as demonstrating the ability of such vehicles to serve as scouts for future rover missions. It will do so attached to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover.

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Mars' atmosphere is 100 times thinner than the Earth's atmosphere, which could make flying a helicopter very hard.

"The real challenge is that the Martian atmosphere is very thin-about 1 percent of Earth's atmosphere-which means that it's not going to look like your typical drone in your backyard", Farley said.

"To make it fly at that low atmospheric density, we had to scrutinise everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and as powerful as it can possibly be". After placing the helicopter on the ground, the rover will be directed to drive to a safe distance to relay commands. "Instead, we have an autonomous capability that will be able to receive and interpret commands from the ground, and then fly the mission on its own".

Once on Mars, NASA plans to deploy the helicopter for a 30-day flight test campaign with up to five flights covering progressively greater distances.

The helicopter's first flight will see it climb 10 feet (3 meters) into the Martian air, where it will attempt to hover for 30 seconds. 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.

On May 11, NASA announced that a small autonomous rotorcraft will be added to the Mars 2020 mission. "With the added dimension of a bird's-eye view from a "marscopter", we can only imagine what future missions will achieve". The mission is scheduled to take off on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, and reach Mars in February 2021.

The rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing site on Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, search for signs of ancient Martian life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers.

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