NASA could decide in late May whether the space agency will add a small helicopter on the Mars 2020 rover as part of technology demonstration efforts, SpaceNews reported Friday.
The space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is developing the helicopter separately from the upcoming mission to the red planet in an effort to determine how the platform can serve as a scout for future rovers and conduct additional science experiments.
Ken Farley, the project scientist for Mars 2020, said he expects the helicopter to operate in the first 30 days of the rover’s mission if NASA includes the platform.
NASA will review Mars 2020 during its Key Decision Point D milestone, which would formally authorize the program to enter assembly, test and launch phases.
The agency aims to launch the rover in July 2020 on a mission to seek signs of life in Mars, as well as collect information to address concerns for possible human expedition to the red planet.