NASA Mars helicopter ready for launch to complete 5 flight tests in 30 days

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is currently preparing for launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and its key hardware component, the Mars helicopter, will begin its final test on Earth and prepare for launch,media reported.

NASA Mars helicopter ready for launch to complete 5 flight tests in 30 days

Figure 1: NASA’s Mars helicopter and its cruise stage are functionally tested in the airlock compartment inside the payload hazard service facility at Kennedy Space Center

The Mars helicopter weighs less than 1.8 kilograms and has a fuselage about the same as a softball, and its twin blades will pass through the thin Martian atmosphere, spinning at nearly 3,000 revolutions per minute, about 10 times the speed of a land vehicle.

The small rotor will soon be installed in the belly of the Perseverance, designed to show whether the technology can be used outside the Earth. Similar devices could be used in the next decade to explore Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

NASA’s Mars helicopter will be the first to fly on another planet. The solar-powered twin-rotor aircraft will remain fixed on the Perseverance after landing. Mission managers will not begin test flights until they are able to find acceptable areas to deploy aircraft.

The Mars helicopter will complete up to five flight tests in 30 days, each slightly more than the previous one. On the first flight, the Mars helicopter will climb to an altitude of 3 meters and circle for about 30 seconds.

NASA Mars helicopter ready for launch to complete 5 flight tests in 30 days

Figure 2: NASA’s Mars 2020 rover now has its official name, known as The Perseverance

“For future explorers, it’s important to see clearly what’s behind the next mountain,” Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy director of NASA’s Science Mission Agency, said of the Mars helicopter. We’ve seen a lot of the Martian landscape from the surface and orbit of Mars. Coupled with the bird’s-eye view provided by the telescope, we can imagine what the task will accomplish in the future. “

As part of the pre-launch test, the Mars helicopter will be placed in the airlock module at a rotor speed of up to 50 revolutions per minute. Tests proved that the helicopter’s function was in line with expectations and would soon be installed on a corresponding probe. The final test marks the final rotation of the rotor blades until the rover reaches the surface of Mars.

But before a Mars helicopter can help us see Mars in a whole new way, it must be launched. To do this, it will go by hitchhiking, with The Perseverance landing on the Red Planet. NASA plans to launch them sometime in July on united launch soyuz’s Aralliance Atlas V carrier rocket.

While the Mars helicopter acts as a reconnaissance aircraft, Perseverance will look for signs of life on Mars. It will also help scientists describe the climate and geological characteristics of Mars and eventually collect samples to carry them when they return to Earth in the future. The on-board instruments on the Perseverance will test technologies that could help pave the way for eventual human missions to Mars.

NASA Mars helicopter ready for launch to complete 5 flight tests in 30 days

Figure 3: Detailed process for the Mars rover to bring back samples

NASA is working with the European Space Agency (ESA) on a plan to best send samples of Mars back to Earth. The sample return task is estimated to take place around 2025. The European Space Agency is also working with the Russian space agency to send its probe to Mars, but unfortunately delays in parachute testing, combined with an outbreak of a new coronavirus, have put the mission on hold until 2022.

So far, NASA doesn’t expect any delay in the Mission to Mars. The Agency is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff, while giving priority to this task and any manned mission to the space station. If all goes according to plan, Willpower and the Mars helicopter will arrive on the red planet in February 2021.