NASA attaches Mars helicopter
to Mars 2020 rover
NASA says this will be the first aircraft to fly on another planet.
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA — NASA's Mars 2020 rover will carry a small helicopter that will be deployed over the Red Planet to conduct test flights and capture photos of the Martian surface.
NASA's engineers have connected a small helicopter to the bottom of the Mars 2020 rover.
A cover will shield the mini helicopter from debris as the rover lands on Mars' surface, according to NASA.
The aircraft will be deployed over the Red Planet once the Mars rover finds a suitable area to conduct test flights. The helicopter will be carrying a camera to capture photos of the Martian surface for transmission back to Earth.
NASA's website explains that the main body of the Mars helicopter will be the size of a softball and weigh under four pounds.
The helicopter will use two sets of rotor blades that are four feet long. These will spin at 2,400 rotations per minute to allow the helicopter to fly as high as 15 feet above the Red Planet.
The Mars helicopter will include a solar array to recharge its batteries that are to be used to rotate the blades and keep the vehicle warm throughout the night.
If the test flights are successful, second-generation helicopters could be used for future Mars missions.
The Mars 2020 rover will be launched in July next year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
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