NASA intend to add an aerial dimension to their future missions by implementing helicopter-like drones. It is widely believed that flight on Mars is next to impossible especially when it involves heavier than air machinery.
This equipment can assist in the surveillance of cliffs, caves and other terrain that would be impossible for humans to explore. The Mars Helicopter will launch with the Mars 2020 rover on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in July 2020 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Testing is currently underway in Denver, Colorado.
Vibration testing has shown that the electronics and propulsion systems can survive the stress and strain of launch and in-flight operation. Of course there is a lot more testing to be done but the equipment has already proven successful to withstand the extreme temperatures it will encounter.
Quote: “We expect to complete our final tests and refinements and deliver the helicopter to the High Bay 1 clean room for integration with the rover sometime this summer,” said Aung, “but we will never really be done with testing the helicopter until we fly at Mars.”
Part of the mission will involve the assessment of natural resources and hazards for future human exploration. The instrumentation will also be sensitive enough to detect the presence of ancient Martian life…exciting!