Mars Helicopter Drone Installed on NASA’s Next Red Planet Rover

Article Mike Wall | Space.com

The first-ever off-Earth helicopter just hooked up with its traveling companion. Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, attached the tiny Mars Helicopter to the agency’s car-size Mars 2020 rover today (Aug. 28), agency officials announced. The duo will launch together in July 2020 and touch down inside the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater in February 2021. Once on Mars, the solar-powered, 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) helicopter will detach and begin flying test sorties.

“Since our helicopter is designed as a flight test of experimental technology, it carries no science instruments,” she added. “But if we prove powered flight on Mars can work, we look forward to the day when Mars helicopters can play an important role in future explorations of the Red Planet.”

NASA plans to launch another rotorcraft soon as well — Dragonfly, which will soar through the thick atmosphere of Saturn’s huge moon Titan. The life-hunting Dragonfly is scheduled to lift off in 2026 and land on Titan’s frigid surface in 2034.

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