NASA sends the first helicopter to space on its next mission to Mars, due to be launched in July 2020.
The Martian helicopter will travel with the mission of the Rover of Mars 2020, announced the space agency. Scientists want to test the way “heavier air” vehicles will operate on the red planet, a NASA spokesman said.
“The idea of a helicopter flying in the sky of another planet is exciting. Mars’s helicopter gives many promises for future scientific exploration missions on Mars, “said NASA commander Jim Bridenstine, who is in charge of the drone machine.
“After the Wright Brothers demonstrated 117 years ago that a controlled flight here on Earth was possible, another group of American pioneers can prove that the same can happen in another world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Deputy Director of the Science Division of NASA.
The Mars helicopter will not be manned, but it will operate autonomously, in a way similar to a flying drone here on Earth. It has the potential to be much faster – and more complicated to fly further – than the River’s journey to the rocky surface of Mars.