Mars Helicopter Attached to Mars 2020 Rover
Engineers attached NASA’s Mars Helicopter, which will be the first aircraft to fly on another planet, to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover today in the Highbay 1 Clean Room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter was connected, along with the Mars Helicopter Delivery System, to a plate on the rover’s belly that includes a cover to shield the helicopter from debris during entry, descent and landing. The helicopter will remain encapsulated after landing, deploying to the surface once a suitable area to conduct test flights is found at Jezero Crater, the rover’s destination.
The Mars Helicopter is considered a high-risk, high-reward technology demonstration. If the small craft encounters difficulties, the science-gathering of the Mars 2020 mission won’t be impacted. If the helicopter does take flight as designed, future Mars missions could enlist second-generation helicopters to add an aerial dimension to their explorations.
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