NASA Mars Helicopter Passes Yet Another Flight Test

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NASA's ambitious Mars Helicopter demo project has cleared a series of key tests, according to the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In 2021, the self-driven helicopter will become the first heavier-than-air vehicles to fly on another planet.

NASA Mars Helicopter Passes Yet Another Flight Test

 

"Nobody has built a Mars Helicopter before, so we are continuously entering new territory," said MiMi Aung, project manager for the Mars Helicopter.

Back in January, the team operated the flight model in a simulated Martian environment. It was then moved to Lockheed Martin Space in Denver for compatibility testing with the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

This system will hold the helicopter aboard the mars 2020 rover during launch and the whole journey before deploying it onto the surface of Mars after landing. The helicopter won't be carrying any science equipment. Its main motive is to confirm whether the Martian atmosphere, which has 1 percent the density of Earth's, supports powered flights controlled from Earth.

"We expect to complete our final tests and refinements and deliver the helicopter to the High Bay 1 clean room for integration with the rover sometime this summer," Aung said.

The Mars Helicopter is slated to take flight atop Mars 2020 rover in July 2020 from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. After the rover makes the first contact with the Martian surface, it will be the first spacecraft in history to accurately retarget its point of a touchdown during the landing sequence.

The helicopter will have to withstand extremely cold temperatures, including nights with temperatures as low as minus 90 degrees Celcius. The US space agency is scheduled to reach the surface of Mars in February 2021.

"Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover mission, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Plane," said NASA.

 

This will be a great achievement in the area of astronomy if the helicopter successfully makes the flight serves the purpose when it reaches the Martian surface. This will also help the space agencies understand Mars' atmosphere and build on it for future plans of colonizing the Red Planet.

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