NASA's Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, which will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover, scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet, is shown in this artist rendition from NASA/JPL in Pasadena, California on May 11, 2018. That is according to an announcement by NASA.
Rovers can provide images from ground level only, and helicopters will fill in middle ground to give researchers more flexibility when seeking new information on land formations and ground features of Mars.
Recent NASA missions to Mars have vastly exceeded their expected lifespans and as this helicopter has been equipped with a solar panel to recharge its lithium-ion batteries, plus kit to keep its innards warm enough to work during frigid Martian nights, perhaps we'll see 'copter's-eye views of the red planet for years to come. How will it do that?
The Mars Helicopter is an autonomous drone which weighs just below four pounds, with twin counter-rotating blades that will hit the thin atmosphere on Mars at about 3,000 rpm, which is about ten times the rate of a helicopter flying on Earth.
Its objective is to attempt flying while there. Did you know that the air here on earth is 100 times heavier than that on Mars? That means that it would be absurd to test real cars over there.
NASA hopes that the helicopter will fly around 10 feet high and then stay hovering stable for 30 seconds for its firs test flight.
"The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. In 2013, there was the commencement of its development.