A chopper on "MARS": looks crazy, however, NASA made it come true... will be sent with Mars Rover in 2020 and take flight in 2021

Image credit: SpaceFlight Insider

Recently NASA has successfully tested "JPL Mars Helicopter Scout" commonly referred to as 'mars copter' or 'rotorcraft' to Mars.

NASA is scheduling to launch the Mars Rover in July 2020 which will also contain the 'mars copter' with it.

Rotorcraft is small, autonomous and has a structure seeming a mosquito's body. It has four thin legs and two rotating twin blades.

The rotorcraft is designed in such a way that it demonstrates the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on Mars.

Mars chopper has advanced from a concept on a blueprint to reality and it took four years.

The hard work and dedication of NASA JPL's (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) members for four years has resulted in the successful test we see today.

This astonishing creation weights at most 1.8 kgs (nearly equal to 4 pounds). The rotorcraft also possess counter-rotating blades having 3000 RPM speed, almost ten times of the RPM of Earth's helicopter!!!

The 'Mars copter' will be attached with the belly pan of 'Mars rover' and will be jointly launched in 2020 by NASA.

Remarkable features of the Mars copter are:
  • has built-in capabilities for operation at Mars
  • has lithium-ion batteries which will operate the machine
  • solar cells are installed which will charge the lithium-ion batteries
  • the rotorcraft is also embedded with a heating mechanism which makes its survival easy in the cold atmosphere (on mars -90 degree Celcius at night)
Image credit: Sky & Telescope

During the test, the helicopter had reached up to 40,000 feet altitude on the Earth surface but has the capacity to fly as high as 1,00,000 feet on Mars surface,

To make rotorcraft fly in mars low atmospheric density, JPL has worked hard to keep it as light as possible. Its made much stronger to survive in Mars atmosphere.

Once the Mars rover reaches to Mars surface and finds a suitable location, mars copter will be in action and will fly at a safer distance from the rover and give the command to it.

"We don't have a pilot and earth will be several lights minute away, so there is no way to joystick this mission in real time", said Mimi Aung, JPL."Instead, we have Autonomous capability which will be able to receive and interpret commands from the bottom and then fly the mission on its own".

let's take a glimpse of exactly what is its purpose:

Mars chopper is definitely a high-risk as well as a high-reward project. Even if it fails then there is no effect on Mars 2020 mission.

If everything goes excellent then we will able to get some aerial information which can't be observed by ground travels on Mars surface.

Mars 2020" along with "Mars copter" will launch on United Launch Alliance(ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and will reach to Mars surface by Feb 2021.

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