American space agency NASA has confirmed that it will send a small autonomous helicopter to the red planet along with their Mars rover mission that is scheduled for launch in July 2020, making it the first time that any aircraft will be used on another world.

Mars is the potential second home for humans and we will be able to live on the red planet the day when we find a way to easily travel back and forth from Mars to Earth – affordably and learn to terraforming Mars to make it sustainable for living beings. While the red planet is still too remote to reach easily and quickly, and it is still too harsh for us to be able to live. But, our space agencies are working their best, progressing towards colonising Mars – bit by bit. We all are aware about NASA’s upcoming Mars rover mission that will help in knowing the planet and its origin much deeply, henceforth helping us to find ways to live there.

To take Mars research to another level, NASA confirmed that it will send a small autonomous helicopter to Mars as the part of the 2020 Mars Rover Mission. The helicopter will become the first ever aircraft to be used on another world and will help the rover to be placed on Martian surface properly and easily. The small helicopter will be autonomously controlled using remote and will be specially designed to take flights in the thin Martian atmosphere using twin counter-rotating blades. The blades will rotate at maximum speed of 3000 rpm, which is about 10 times the speed that is used for helicopters here on earth – just to be able to carry a helicopter weighing 1.8 kilometres.

When the helicopter was tested on Earth, it rose to as high as 40,000 feet – and since the atmosphere on Mars is just one percent of that on Earth, it will be at the Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet. After successfully landing on Mars, the Martian helicopter will be placed on ground by the rover. Then, the rover will move to a safe distance and relay commands that are sent by controllers on Earth to operate the helicopter. The first light by this helicopter will be made after its batteries are charged enough and will continue for 30 days – taking five flights. Starting from initial vertical level for about 30 seconds at an altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and progressing to flight distances up to a few hundred yards and durations up to 90 seconds. The helicopter will prove the viability of transportation on India, but reach locations inaccessible from the ground.

291