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Video | Believe it or not, NASA to fly a helicopter on Mars


Video | Believe it or not, NASA to fly a helicopter on Mars
 It will have a weight of about four pounds, and a fuselage the size of a softball.

NASA said it will send a small helicopter to Mars as part of the US space agency’s 2020 mission to place a next-generation rover on the Martian surface, marking the first time such an aircraft will be used on another world.

The remote-controlled Mars Helicopter, designed to take flight in the thin Martian atmosphere with twin counter-rotating blades, weighs about four pounds, with a fuselage the size of a softball, NASA said. Its blades will spin at almost 3,000rpm, roughly 10 times the rate employed by helicopters on Earth.

 It will have a weight of about four pounds, and a fuselage the size of a softball.

NASA said it will send a small helicopter to Mars as part of the US space agency’s 2020 mission to place a next-generation rover on the Martian surface, marking the first time such an aircraft will be used on another world.

The remote-controlled Mars Helicopter, designed to take flight in the thin Martian atmosphere with twin counter-rotating blades, weighs about four pounds, with a fuselage the size of a softball, NASA said. Its blades will spin at almost 3,000rpm, roughly 10 times the rate employed by helicopters on Earth.

“The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

The helicopter is intended to demonstrate the viability and usefulness of such aircraft on Mars, NASA said, with potential roles as a low-flying scout or to reach locations inaccessible from the ground.

NASA said it plans a 30-day flight test period that will include up to five flights, starting with a short vertical jaunt to hover for about 30 seconds at an altitude of 10 feet and progressing to flight distances up to a few hundred yards and durations up to 90 seconds.

The helicopter contains solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries and a heating mechanism to keep it warm during frigid nights.

The Mars 2020 rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and reach Mars in February 2021. The rover is designed to carry out geological studies and ascertain the habitability of the Martian environment, NASA said.

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