NASA is almost ready to launch its new Mars Helicopter. For the first time in the history, a helicopter will fly on the Red Planet allowing to simplify discovery missions. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling”, said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
The new aircraft is specially designed to land securely on different types of ground. It’ll take pictures of Mars’ surface to speed up soil surveys. Despite the apparent simplicity of the project, the new rotorcraft represents a big challenge for NASA’s engineers.
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A game-changing technology by NASA
This exciting and visionary achievement will inspire young people all over the United States to become scientists and engineers, paving the way for even greater discoveries in the future.”
The idea behind the project appears to be more than a simple evolution of current technologies. The helicopter had to prove the ability to do big things in a small an lightweight package. Mars’ atmosphere is not optimal for this genre of things, and a new rover on the Red Planet has to be reliable and durable more than ever.
Years of research and testing made possible to build a super lightweight solution – less than 4 pounds of weight (1.8 Kilograms). Moreover, in order to fly in a low atmosphere density, the counter-rotating blades have to reach a maximum speed up to 3,000 rpm, about 10 times faster than a terrestrial helicopter.
According to NASA, controlling the Mars Helicopter in real time from earth was not a feasible solution. They instead developed some form of autonomous driving capabilities that given a certain mission, the software will carry out all the tasks.
The excitement of NASA for the new “marscopter” is noticeable and we are too. As you probably know, the race for Mars has already started and everyone is demanding if the future of a life on the Red Planet is feasible or not.
We already have great views of Mars from the surface as well as from orbit. With the added dimension of a bird’s-eye view from a ‘marscopter,’ we can only imagine what future missions will achieve.”
Almost ready for the first mission
The new Mars Copter is currently under testing. The first launch is planned for 2020 but it’s predicted to reach Mars in February 2021.
Thanks to this new “discovery tools” scientists will be able to carry out deeper research on Mars’ habitability.