NASA's Mars Helicopter begins final testing before 2020 mission

NASA's Mars Helicopter begins final testing before 2020 mission

The Mars Helicopter that will accompany the rover has also recently passed a number of tests created to prepare it for life on the Red Planet.

NASA's Mars Helicopter - which is actually what you figure it would be - has as of late completed another round of significant tests and is expected to be integrated with the rover for the Mars 2020 launch this summer.

The mission will also be carrying the space agency's prototype Mars Helicopter-a unique autonomous vehicle which has been created to demonstrate the viability of controlled, powered flight on other planets.

The NASA Mars Helicopter team has now announced that the flight demonstrator project has passed several vital tests with "flying colors".

At present, NASA plans to launch the Mars 2020 mission sometime on or immediately after July 17th, 2020.

It then was moved to Lockheed Martin Space in Denver for compatibility testing with the Mars Helicopter Delivery System. Unlike the rover, the helicopter will not carry any scientific instruments, its main objective will be to prove that heavier-than-air vehicles can operate in the thin Martian atmosphere, which has about 1 percent the density of Earth's gaseous envelope. The robotic explorer will be accompanied by a helicopter equipped with a high-resolution camera when it launches to the Red Planet atop an Atlas V rocket next year.

They were also put into a thermal vacuum chamber to see how they performed in cold temperatures (minus 200 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 129 degrees Celsius), similar to the conditions they'll experience in deep space and on the Martian surface.

In the future, helicopter-like vehicles may be a regular addition to Mars missions since they afford greater flexibility to relocate to new areas in short periods of time. They must survive the tumultuous acoustic vibrations of launch during their exit through Earth's atmosphere, followed by the frigid environment of interplanetary space as they make the interplanetary journey to Mars. Among the highlights: A new solar panel that will power the helicopter has been installed, and the vehicle's rotor blades have been spun up to ensure that the more than 1,500 individual pieces of carbon fiber, flight-grade aluminum, silicon, copper, foil and aerogel continue to work as a cohesive unit. "But it could also let us test a possible solution", said HP Principal Investigator Tilman Spohn of DLR.

"But we will never really be done with testing the helicopter until we fly at Mars". The helicopter will separate from the rover after landing. The primary goal for the mission is the Jezero crater, where NASA hopes its rover may discover indications of ancient life.



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