NASA’s Maiden Martian Chopper Enters Final Test Phase for 2020 Rover

This image of the flight
model of NASA’s Mars Helicopter was taken on Feb. 14, 2019, in a cleanroom at
JPL. The aluminum base plate, side posts and crossbeam around the helicopter
protect its landing legs and the attachment points that will hold it to the
belly of the Mars 2020 rover.  Credits:
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Ken
Kremer —
SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM
– 12 June 2019
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Going where no helicopter has gone before NASA’s and humanities
maiden Martian chopper has entered its final testing phase with the goal of
proving the rather difficult feat that a heavier than air vehicle can fly in
the Red Planets extremely thin atmosphere. 



If all goes will the Martian helicopter will be mated to the
belly of NASA’s 2020 Red Planet rover in time for liftoff next July – and a history making first ever feat of flight on Mars in July
2021.  



“Nobody’s built a Mars Helicopter before,
so we are continuously entering new territory,” said MiMi Aung, project
manager for the Mars Helicopter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, California. “Our flight model — the actual vehicle that will
travel to Mars — has recently passed several important tests.”



Watch this very cool video to see
the Mars helicopter tested in flight by the team to make sure its ready to ride
with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover:
Video Caption: The laws of physics may say it’s near impossible to
fly on Mars, but actually flying a heavier-than-air vehicle on the Red Planet
is much harder than that. NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will deliver a technology
demonstration that will put the idea to the test — a helicopter that will
perform controlled flight on Mars. 
Credit: NASA/JPL



“In 2021, the small, autonomous helicopter will
be the first vehicle in history to attempt to establish the viability of
heavier-than-air vehicles flying on another planet,” says NASA.



“Its purpose is to confirm that powered flight
in the tenuous Martian atmosphere (which has 1% the density of Earth’s) is
possible and that it can be controlled from Earth over large interplanetary
distances.”



The Mars Helicopter weighs 4-pound
(1.8-kilogram) and will be attached to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover during
launch and interplanetary cruise before deploying it onto the surface of Mars
after landing.



It carries no science instruments since it is a
technology demonstration experiment but will be equipped with a high resolution camera to scout
the local alien terrain. 



If it successfully flies on Mars the science
team will use the chopper to help assess which route the rover will be routed to
as she journeys across the Red Planet. 



From January to May the team conducted flight
testing with the flight model in a simulated Martian
environment
at JPL compatibility with the Mars Helicopter Delivery
System  at Lockheed Martin Space in
Denver.


And don’t forget that NASA is inviting the
public to send their name along for the journey that begins with blastoff of
the ‘2020 Rover’ in July 2020. 



From now until Sept. 30, you can send your name to Mars by adding it to a chip to be loaded on board for the journey.


You can sign up and obtain a souvenir boarding
pass to Mars here:





Over 7.0 million people have already signed
up to place their names on the chips as of today, June 12.



I was fortunate to visit with Curiosity in
the KSC clean room back in 2011, 3 weeks before liftoff.  A memory I’ll always cherish !


Dr. Ken Kremer/Space UpClose in the KSC clean
room with Curiosity in 2011. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The 1 ton rover (2,300 pounds, 1,000 kilograms) is nearly a copy of the NASA’s
Curiosity Mars Science Lab rover still operating on Mars – but with a completely
new suite of science instruments and cameras
as well as the 1st Mars Helicopter.


The Mars 2020 rover will launch on a United
Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from
Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
Florida. 



The launch window opens in July 2020.

It is being targeted to touch down at Jezero
Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.



Mars 2020 will search for signs of past
microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples
for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red
Planet.
 



Watch for Ken’s continuing
onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.



Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer
– email: ken at kenkremer.com



Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the
KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about
space topics.



………….
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events





Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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