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NASA helicopter passes key exams on highway to Mars flight – Astronomy Now

June 10, 2019 - Comment

An engineer inspects the helicopter NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will carry to the crimson planet. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA’s Mars Helicopter, a two-rotor, 1.eight kilogram (four pound) plane hitching a trip to the crimson planet aboard the house company’s Mars 2020 rover, has come by key exams with flying colors, giving engineers extra confidence the small



An engineer inspects the helicopter NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will carry to the crimson planet. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Mars Helicopter, a two-rotor, 1.eight kilogram (four pound) plane hitching a trip to the crimson planet aboard the house company’s Mars 2020 rover, has come by key exams with flying colors, giving engineers extra confidence the small chopper will efficiently exhibit flight within the ultra-thin martian ambiance.

In January, the flight mannequin was operated in a simulated martian surroundings after which shipped to a Lockheed Martin facility in Colorado the place it was subjected to launch and flight vibrations and sounds to confirm electrical connections and different mechanisms will face up to the rigours of launch and atmospheric entry. It was then despatched again to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on 11 Could for extra testing.

A brand new photo voltaic panel was put in on prime of the helicopter and its rotors had been spun up “to make sure that the greater than 1,500 particular person items of carbon fiber, flight-grade aluminium, silicon, copper, foil and aerogel proceed to work as a cohesive unit,” NASA mentioned in a information launch.

 

The helicopter is a know-how demonstration challenge and as such it is not going to carry any scientific devices. It’s supposed to exhibit the feasibility of powered flight within the martian ambiance, which has 1 % the density of Earth’s. However, like available drones on Earth, it does carry a digicam that may present high-resolution color pictures.

With the environmental testing and different exams behind it, engineers plan to connect the helicopter to the rover later this summer time. Launch is scheduled for July 2020.

“We count on to finish our ultimate exams and refinements and ship the helicopter to the Excessive Bay 1 clear room for integration with the rover someday this summer time,” mentioned Mimi Aung, know-how demonstration challenge supervisor. “However we are going to by no means actually be carried out with testing the helicopter till we fly at Mars.”

The Mars 2020 rover is a digital twin of NASA’s Curiosity rover, however it would carry a distinct suite of devices targeted on trying to find proof of organic exercise within the distant previous. It additionally will check a method for extracting oxygen from the martian ambiance and cache rock and soil samples for potential return to Earth by a future spacecraft.

An artist’s impression of the Mars 2020 rover on the floor of the crimson planet. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA has positioned a webcam in Excessive Bay 1 exhibiting the Mars 22 rover as engineers full its meeting.

 



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