NASA Moving Forward With Mars Helicopter Testing

Jeff Brody

NASA is bringing its Mars Helicopter to the final stages of testing in preparation for the autonomous vehicle's exploration mission in 2021. The helicopter underwent electrical connection, vibration and temperature tests in Denver before transferring to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in May for further trial and equipment installations, JPL said Thursday

The vehicle features a new solar-powered energy source and is set for upcoming tests. JPL also tested the helicopter's rotor blades to verify cohesive operation. The Mars Helicopter will demonstrate flight within Mars' atmosphere that has 1 percent of the density as Earth's atmosphere. The vehicle also features a camera to document Martian visuals.

NASA plans to launch the helicopter with the Mars 2020 rover in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The helicopter will begin its intended mission in February 2021 after arrival at Mars' Jezero Crater.

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