In an Interplanetary Initially, NASA to Fly a Helicopter on Mars

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Mankind takes another step in the journey to Mars as NASA sets their sights on flying a small helicopter on the Red Planet by 2020.

The experimental, softball-sized drone would be the first airborne vehicle to fly around within Mars' atmosphere other than the landers that have delivered other, ground-based rovers. Controllers on Earth will command the Mars Helicopter, which was created to receive and interpret commands from the ground. Court blocks delay to auto efficiency fines MORE said in a statement. During the flight demonstrations, the helicopter's twin, counter-rotating blades will cut through the Martian atmosphere at nearly 3,000 rpm-about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth. The Mars Helicopter and the Mars 2020 rover will be carried into space by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V, scheduled to take off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet (12,200 meters)". It has twin rotors that will spin at about 3,000 rotations per minute, which is 10 times faster than Earth helicopters. The major issue, he said, was that adding Mars Helicopter could disrupt science operations of the main rover during that 30-day test period even as the mission was working to find efficiencies elsewhere to maximize its overall performance.

The helicopter has solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries, and a heating mechanism to keep it warm through the cold Martian nights.

The helicopter is supposed to be used to achieve points on the surface of Mars, where you will not be able to get the Rover. However, since Mars's atmosphere is just 1 percent of Earth's, a helicopter that's just sitting on the surface of the Red Planet is already at the equivalent of 100,000 feet on Earth.

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If Mars Helicopter works, it will constitute another space first for NASA, the first flight on another world.

NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars as part of its next rover mission to the planet.

The aptly named Mars Helicopter is all primed to make history. "The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers", said NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the science mission directorate.

These images released by NASA show the surface of Mars.

According to Bridenstine, the success of the "marscopter" may enable more ambitious missions in the future.