NASA to make aviation history with UAV mission on Mars

NASA MARS

NASA is set to make aviation history with the first test of a heavier-than-air aircraft on another planet.

The Mars Helicopter, an unmanned rotorcraft, will travel with the agency’s Mars 2020 rover mission, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.

“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.”

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Started in August 2013 as a technology development project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Mars Helicopter weighs under four pounds and its fuselage is about the size of a tennis ball.

Its twin, counter-rotating blades will bite into the thin Martian atmosphere at almost 3,000 rpm – about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth.

“Exploring the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars Helicopter exemplifies a successful marriage of science and technology innovation and is a unique opportunity to advance Mars exploration for the future,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency headquarters in Washington.

“After the Wright Brothers proved 117 years ago that powered, sustained, and controlled flight was possible here on Earth, another group of American pioneers may prove the same can be done on another world.”

Tags : aviationDroneNASANational Aeronautics and Space Administration
Emma Calder

The author Emma Calder

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