The helicopter is the result of four years of testing and redesigning a standard helicopter to shrink it down to an object that weighs a little less than four pounds. The "marscopter" has built-in capabilities to ensure it can function autonomously, as well as solar cells to charge its batteries and a heating mechanism to keep it from freezing during the cold Martian nights.
After placing the helicopter on the ground, the rover will be directed to drive to a safe distance to relay commands.
They hope that it will prove the technology for future flight explorations of Mars and provide more data on the atmosphere. Controllers on the planet will control the helicopter to shoot its initial autonomous airport after its batteries have been charged and evaluations are all ran, NASA explained.
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.
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"The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet (12,200 metres)".
The Mars 2020 rover is being prepared for launch in July 2020, with its landing on the Red Planet planned for February 2021. Plans are being laid for a 30-day flight test, with five flights going incrementally further each time, up to a few hundred yards (meters).
The remote-controlled Mars Helicopter is created to take flight in the thin Martian atmosphere with twin counter-rotating blades.
On its first flight, the helicopter will make a short vertical climb to 10 feet and hover for about 30 sec. If it does not work, the Mars 2020 mission will not be impacted. The copter won't be controllable in real time from Earth, due to the light-speed travel time involved.
The Mars Helicopter will bear no resemblance to the ones that hover nearly constantly in the skies above Los Angeles and tracking vehicle chases.
"The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers", Thomas Zurbuchen, Nasa's associate administrator for science, said.