Publicado: Sol, May 13, 2018
Ciencia | Por Aurelio Ontiveros

NASA sends a helicopter to Mars

NASA sends a helicopter to Mars

NASA said the blades of the small helicopter, which has a softball-sized fuselage, would maintain an RPM of almost 3,000, about 10 times that of helicopters on Earth.

BBC notes that existing vehicles on Mars have been wheeled ones bound on the planet's surface, which is prone to running into obstacles.

The drone weighs 1.8 kilograms (just under four pounds) and the dual, counter-rotating blades will spin at around 3,000 rpm, roughly 10 times the rate of a regular helicopter.

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

While the helicopter has been deemed a high-risk, high-reward operation, NASA employees say that if it fails, it will not impact the 2020 mission.

On Friday NASA officials confirmed that they are planning to fly a light and small helicopter to Mars.

In two years, a new USA rover is set to visit Mars.

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The helicopter also contains built-in capabilities needed for operation at Mars, including solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries, and a heating mechanism to keep it warm through the cold Martian nights. In tests he successfully rose to a height in excess of 12 km, this means that on Mars the Mars Helicopter can fly at an altitude of over 30 km.

"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".

When the Mars 2020 Rover lands on Mars, the Mars Helicopter will deploy from the bottom of the space probe.

It is planned that NASA would send another expedition to Mars in July 2020 - red planet the ship will reach in February 2021.

The Mars helicopter will not be manned, but it will operate autonomously, in a way similar to a flying drone here on Earth.

The Rover will perform geological tests, search for signs of ancient Martian life, and assess resources and hazards for future human explorers. Then the rover will move away, and the aerial vehicle will conduct a series of at least five flight tests over 30 days of more and more further distances, up to 100 meters.

If the mission proves successful, helicopters will be used in future missions to planets to access locations not reachable by ground travel.

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