02:57Black Hawk on Red Planet: NASA to Deploy Helicopter on Mars

Уфологи обнаружили на Марсе мертвого пришельца принесенного в жертву

What started as a technology development project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in August 2013, has become The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft which will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover mission, now scheduled to launch in July 2020 and be the first heavier-than-air craft on another world.

The primary goal of the Mars 2020 rover is to investigate a to-be-determined ancient environment on Mars that could have hosted past or present-day bacterial life.

Mars' atmosphere is 100 times thinner than the Earth's atmosphere, which could make flying a helicopter very hard. Once there, it will use solar cells to charge its batteries and operate a built-in heater to combat frigid nighttime temperatures.

It isn't even certain that vehicles can levitate on Mars, but the NASA helicopter seeks to "demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet", according to a Friday statement. It has twin rotors that will spin at about 3,000 rotations per minute, which is 10 times faster than Earth helicopters.

That extra boost is necessary, because most Earth helicopters would be completely unable to travel in Mars' thin atmosphere. "We have an autonomous capability that will be able to receive and interpret commands from the ground, and then fly the mission on its own", Aung said.

Once the rover is on the planet's surface, a suitable location will be found to deploy the helicopter down from the vehicle and place it onto the ground.

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Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said the demonstration could blaze a trail for future robotic scouts on Mars.

On May 11, NASA announced that a small autonomous rotorcraft will be added to the Mars 2020 mission.

NASA's Mars 2020 will launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020 and is expected to reach the Red Planet by February 2021. Such views are provided now by orbiting spacecraft. "We are working very hard for efficiencies and spending 30 days working on a technology demonstration that does not further those goals directly, from the science point of view, is a tradeoff that has to be made".

NASA released an animated video of the helicopter zipping around Mars to the tune of a heart-pounding soundtrack. NASA talked about the proposed mission add-on back in 2015 and it's been in development since 2013.

We have rovers on Mars' surface, and orbiters like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter floating around the planet, but we don't have anything flying around the surface of Mars right now.

He added, though, that Mars 2020 has worked to accommodate the helicopter, and was not concerned about any technical risk to the mission from it.

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