NASA has verified that it is sending a self-directed helicopter to Mars that will take a trip with the Mars rover mission. The mission is presently planned to launch in July 2020. The lightweight and small Mars Helicopter will show the potential and viability of heavier-than-air automobiles on Mars.
“The thought of a helicopter roaming in the skies of a different planet is exciting. The Mars Helicopter embraces much promise for our upcoming discovery, science, and exploration assignments to Mars,” Jim Bridenstine, the Administrator at NASA, claimed to the media in an interview last week.
Commenced in August 2013 as a tech development initiative at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) of NASA, the Mars Helicopter has a weight of 1.8 Kgs. Its counter-rotating, twin blades will bite into the thin atmosphere of Mars with a speed of 3,000 rpm. This is almost 10x the rate of a helicopter on our planet. In addition, its fuselage is as small as a softball.
“It is fitting that the U.S. is the first country ever to fly the first heavier-than-air vehicle on a different planet,” claimed John Culberson, the Representative, to the media in an interview. The chopper will look for a controlled flight in the thin environment of Mars.
The chopper has in-built abilities required for mission at Mars, comprising solar cells to power its Li-ion batteries, and a heating apparatus to keep it hot through the cold nights of Mars.
Earlier this month, primary tests were accomplished by NASA on portable nuclear reactor aimed for space missions. As NASA prepares to drive humans out in space, they will apparently need a lot of energy. And the ideal solution for this is Kilopower, a portable nuclear fission tool, competent of generating nuclear power for extended space missions. The tool requires to be controlled very carefully.