NASA is sending its Mars Perseverance Rover to the red planet anytime between July 17 and August 5, and it's now in its final preparation stages.
Part of these final stages is attaching the Mars Helicopter to the rover, to join it on its mission. The last week has seen NASA's team assemble the pieces of the rover machine, running tests and filled its tanks with fuel. Now, the rover is also adorned with the Mars Helicopter, paving the way for future unmanned aerial vehicles in Space.
The time is nearing when NASA's Mars Perseverance rover will launch up towards its destination: Mars. As the rover rolls around on Mars, a NASA helicopter will also be fluttering around.
.@NASA's Mars Helicopter will make history when it becomes the first aircraft to fly on another world. Now it has its ride to the Red Planet.— NASA's Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) April 11, 2020
The helicopter was attached to the belly of @NASAPersevere ahead of its launch to Mars, targeted for July: https://t.co/8O3TUzlxW6pic.twitter.com/x9EkBsjzZh
Last year, NASA ensured that its Mars Helicopter could indeed fly in the conditions the red planet will offer. The 1.8 kilogram (4 pound) vehicle was tested in JPL's Space Simulator in Martian conditions. The team was able to replicate the Martian atmosphere and gravity inside the vacuum cylinder, and in that cylinder, the helicopter successfully hovered around five centimeters (two inches) over the ground. The next time it'll do that will be on Mars.
NASA's Perseverance's team attached the helicopter to the rover on April 6, after having ensured it's able to send and receive data, as well as an electrical charge from the rover. Initially, the helicopter will gain its power from the rover but then it'll switch to its solar panel as it makes its way to the Jezero Crater. After it lands on the red planet, the helicopter will remain on the rover for two and a half months before flying off on its own.
The Perseverance has to first drive the 110 meters (330 feet) distance from its landing spot before the Mars Helicopter starts its 30-day flight testing mission.