Forget the Red Wedding for just a moment and refocus on the Red Planet. Because space exploration is about as exciting as it gets! Now NASA is making strides on this front. They’re gearing up for mission Mars and their spacecraft launches in 2021. The exploratory rover shall also hold an autonomous helicopter in its belly.
The drone-like helicopter is 4lb (1.8kg) and is designed to fly in Mars’s thin atmosphere. It shall cruise over the red planet with about an hour of flight time. This shall allow it to offer scientists deeper insight into the Martian surface.
Following its maiden flight, the engineers are optimistic about the results. They believe they require no further testing before the chopper reaches Mars, reports Dailymail.
“The next time we fly, we fly on Mars,” said MiMi Aung, the project manager JPL.
“Getting our helicopter into an extremely thin atmosphere is only part of the challenge. To truly simulate flying on Mars we have to take away two-thirds of Earth’s gravity, because Mars’s gravity is that much weaker,” said Teddy Tzanetos, test conductor for the Mars Helicopter.
All You Need To Know About NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover
- It intends to scout out signs of ancient life on the red planet to aid scientists in comprehending how life evolved on earth.
- It means to explore an ancient river delta in the Jezero Crater. Experts believe this was once filled with a 1,600-foot (500-meter) deep lake.
- The Jezero crater also hosted microbial life approximately 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago.
- Costing about $2.5 billion (Rs. 17898 crores) it launches July 2020 and lands February 2021.
- It is designed to land inside the crater so it can collect samples that can be further analysed.
NASA believes they need a second mission to return the samples to the planet possibly later in the 2020s.
Here are 7 pictures that offer you a deeper insight into the Mars helicopter
- Exploration in space on other planets has purely been via on-ground rovers. But this is the first of it’s kind.
2. Scientists had a lab in Pasadena closely replicate Mars’s thin atmosphere. They created freezing temperatures to mimic the red planet’s nightly minus 90C (minus 130F).
3. A vacuum chamber replaces nitrogen, oxygen and other gases with carbon dioxide so replicate Mars’s atmosphere and they even have a gravity offload system in place.
4. Pictures of a simulated landing.
5. This detailed graphic by John Lawson depicts how the Mars Helicopter will function on its mission in 2021.
6. The space agency carried out the tests at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
7. The scientists explained that Mars has third less gravity and 99 per cent less air than our planet. Hence flying the helicopter will be like flying it at 100,000 feet, although it shall only hover 9 feet in the air at first.
NASA achieved this marvellous feat with the aid of a motorised lanyard fixed to the top of the helicopter. This offers it an uninterrupted tug similar to two-thirds of Earth’s gravity.
Take a closer look at the drone in this fascinating video-
Well, the excitement is palpable. We can’t wait for 2021’s mission Mars for a deeper insight into our neighbouring planet. Can you?