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NASA confirms drone for Mars 2020 mission


Posted on Sunday, 13 May, 2018 | Comment icon 9 comments

The project is risky, but the pay-off could be huge. Image Credit: NASA / JPL
The space agency is moving forward with its plan to send a helicopter drone to Mars in two years' time.
The drone, which has been in development at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for several years, has been designed to operate autonomously on Mars without requiring real-time input from an operator.

Weighing 1.8kg, the device has an internal battery capable of powering flights of up two minutes at a time - enough for it to reach an altitude of around 300 meters.

NASA had not been certain whether or not the drone would actually be sent to Mars, but now it looks as though it will in fact be accompanying the next rover when it launches in 2020.

If all goes to plan it will be the first ever heavier-than-air aircraft to operate on another planet.

"The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. "The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars."

The drone project has been described as "high risk" due to the likely possibility of failure.

"If it does not work, the Mars 2020 mission will not be impacted," NASA stated

"If it does work, helicopters may have a real future as low-flying scouts and aerial vehicles to access locations not reachable by ground travel."


Source: BBC News | Comments (9)

Tags: Drone, Mars

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by UFOwatcher on 17 March, 2018, 20:46
Only two minutes at a time! They had better be quick. Would love to see this with a lot more time.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 11 May, 2018, 21:21
Mars Helicopter to Fly on NASA’s Next Red Planet Rover Mission  
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 11 May, 2018, 21:22
 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Sundew on 14 May, 2018, 1:33
Although the gravity is not as great as Earth, the atmosphere is much thinner. I wonder how that will affect a drone? I would assume at some point an atmosphere can be so thin that such a propeller driven device could not work at all. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Astra. on 14 May, 2018, 3:38
Yeah, well I'm sure that NASA has taken all of this into consideration. Hence the 4 years of testing etc. As they have mentioned, if it doesn't work the Mars 2020 mission wont be impacted on. I'd like to wager that all will go to plan tho.  As they say - 'nothing ventured, nothing gained' .. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 14 May, 2018, 5:26
It won't affect the drone at all, as it has been thoroughly tested at atmospheric pressures simulating those it will experience on Mars.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Aardvark-DK on 14 May, 2018, 8:27
Interesting, so it will take photos of all the faces, and buildings there ? (sarcasm might be in this post..)
Comment icon #8 Posted by EBE Hybrid on 15 May, 2018, 11:40
If it works, it'd be a great way to explore craters and cold traps for surface water ice, would be something really special if water ice could be found in abundance from the point of view of running a martian habitat (which would need water and fuel) plus hopefully it may also contain organic molecules indicative of life
Comment icon #9 Posted by Sundew on 22 May, 2018, 16:56
Good to know. I would expect them not to overlook this "small" detail. 


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