NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars as part of its next rover mission to the planet.
The Mars Helicopter will go with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission, which is currently scheduled to launch in July 2020. According to NASA, the helicopter will demonstrate the “viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.”
“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.”
The Mars Helicopter weighs just under four pounds, with twin, counter-rotating blades that will hit the thinatmosphere on Mars at about 3,000 rpm, which is about 10 times the rate of a helicopter flying on Earth.
Once the Mars Helicopter has landed on the surface of Mars, controllers back on Earth will command it to take its first autonomous flight.