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NASA plans to use rotorcraft UAV to scout Mars!

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The Mars Helicopter has been designed, researched and tested for four years. If successful, it will be the first heavier-than-air craft on another planet.

NASA

Weighing in at under four pounds, the rotorcraft UAV is made to be small and lightweight. The Mars Helicopter also has lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged thanks to built-in solar cells.

“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “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.”

What did NASA have to do to build a UAV that can fly on Mars? 

With Mars’ low atmospheric density, NASA had to make everything as light and strong as possible.

When the rotorcraft UAV is on Maritain surface, NASA estimated that it’ll be equivalent to an Earth altitude of 100,000 feet. To make it operable under extreme conditions, NASA designed the Mars Helicopter with twin, counter-rotating blades that are rated to spin as fast as 3,000 rpm, which is 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth, according to NASA’s press release.

“It’s fitting that the United States of America is the first nation in history to fly the first heavier-than-air craft on another world,” Culberson said. “This exciting and visionary achievement will inspire young people all over the United States to become scientists and engineers, paving the way for even greater discoveries in the future.”

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