When NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft launches it will include a helicopter designed to fly only on Mars and will be the first time ever an aircraft will fly on another planetary body.
In today’s SpaceQ podcast were featuring a Future in Space Operation teleconference with Håvard Grip from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Håvard spoke about the NASA Mars 2020 mission which will includes both a rover and helicopter.
The Mars 2020 rover is similar to the Curiosity rover whose mission is ongoing, but will have some different instrumentation. The Mars helicopter that will accompany the rover is quite small weighing only 1.8 kilograms and is about 60 cm in width, though from blade tip to tip it is 1.2 meters.
The helicopter is battery powered and is recharged by a solar array. Flights will be short, lasting no more than 90 seconds flying to a height of about 5 meters. The helicopter has a camera. It will fly ahead of the rover to survey the local terrain and transmit the data it collects once it returns and lands at a safe location nearby the rover. It will not takeoff and land on the rover itself after the rover has landed on Mars.
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