NASA is sending a tiny robot helicopter to Mars

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NASA is sending a tiny robot helicopter to Mars‘Washington PostHelicopter to accompany NASA’s next Mars rover to Red Planet‘Spaceflight NowNASA plans to fly a helicopter in Mars’s incredibly thin atmosphere‘VoxHelicopters Are Coming to a Planet Near You‘The Atlantic

In five decades of exploring Mars, NASA has sent orbiters, landers and rovers’to explore Earth’s neighbor. But the space agency’s next mission will be the first to send a tiny robotic helicopter to another planet.

It took four years of testing and redesign to create a helicopter capable of operating on the Red Planet. Mars’s atmosphere is so thin that hovering just 10 feet above the surface is the equivalent of’soaring 100,000 feet above Earth.

The altitude record for helicopters on Earth is 40,000 feet; above that, the air isn’t dense enough to hold copters aloft.

‘To make it fly at that low atmospheric density, we had to scrutinize everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and as powerful as it can possibly be,’ Mimi Aung, the Mars Helicopter project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a news release.

And here’s another article:

Helicopter to accompany NASA’s next Mars rover to Red Planet

A flying drone fitted with counter-rotating blades, on-board autonomy, and a lightweight carbon-fiber fuselage will ride to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, officials announced Friday.

Promising results from recent ground testing and a funding boost provided by a new NASA budget passed by Congress earlier this year helped NASA leadership decide that the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) Mars Helicopter could be ready in time for launch with the space agency’s next rover mission in July 2020.

“You should see the big smile on my face right now,” said Mimi Aung, project manager for the Mars Helicopter mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “It’s phenomenal because this has never been done before.”

Helicopters Are Coming to a Planet Near You

The first space missions humans sent to Mars were flybys. Spacecraft had one chance to observe the planet before hurtling away, never to return. Then came the orbiters, designed to be captured by Mars’s gravity and stick around. Eventually, the orbiters started bringing landers with them, dropping them on the rust-colored surface. Then came the rovers, built to move along the rocky terrain. Over decades, these artifacts’some still running, others defunct and coated in dust’have created a kind of museum exhibit on Mars, a timeline of human technology as it matures.

Ongoing.

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  • Publisher: The Atlantic
  • Author: Marina Koren
  • Twitter: @theatlantic
  • Citation: Web link

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Mars 2020 mission, to demonstrate potential of heavier than air vehicles on the Red Planet, and perhaps more importantly, roared Sophia, Red Planet.NASAnasa. — Sophia

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