According to foreign media reports, NASA's perseverance Mars probe is currently preparing for launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Its key hardware component, the Mars helicopter, will begin the final test on earth and be ready for launch.
Figure 1: NASA Mars helicopter and its cruise class function tested in an airlock at the Kennedy Space Center payload hazard service facility
The weight of the Mars helicopter is less than 1.8kg, and its fuselage is about the same as that of softball. Its twin paddles will pass through the thin Martian atmosphere and rotate at a speed of nearly 3000 revolutions per minute, about 10 times that of the land vehicle.
The small rotorcraft, which will soon be installed in the belly of perseverance, is designed to show whether the technology can be used outside the earth. Similar devices could also be used to explore Saturn's largest moon, Titan, in the next decade.
NASA's Mars helicopter will be the first to fly on other planets. The solar powered twin rotor aircraft will remain attached to the perseverance after landing. When mission managers are able to find acceptable areas to deploy the aircraft, they will begin the test flight.
The Mars helicopter will complete up to five flight tests in 30 days, each slightly further than the previous one. In the first flight, the Mars helicopter will climb to a height of 3 meters and hover for about 30 seconds.
Figure 2: NASA's Mars 2020 Rover now has an official name, called perseverance
Speaking of the Mars helicopter, Thomas Zulbuchin (Thomas Zurbuchen), deputy director of the NASA Science Mission Administration, said :" It is vital for future explorers to see clearly what is behind the next mountain. We have seen a lot of Martian landscape from the surface and orbit of Mars. With the bird's eye view provided by the telescope, we can imagine what future missions will accomplish.
As part of the pre launch test, the Mars helicopter will be placed in an airlock with a rotor speed of up to 50 revolutions per minute. Tests have shown that the helicopter functions as expected and will soon be installed on its corresponding Rover. The final test marks the last time the rotor blades will rotate until the probe reaches the surface of Mars.
But before a Mars helicopter can help us see Mars in a new way, it has to be launched. To do this, it will hitchhike to the red planet with the will. NASA plans to launch them sometime in July with the alliance Atlas V launch vehicle.
While the Mars helicopter is acting as a reconnaissance aircraft, persevere will look for signs of life on Mars. It will also help scientists describe the climate and geology of Mars and eventually collect samples for future return to earth. The onboard instruments on perseverance will test technologies that will help pave the way for the eventual human mission to Mars.
Figure 3: detailed flow of samples returned by Mars probe
NASA is working with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a plan for how best to return Mars samples to earth. The sample return task is estimated to be carried out around 2025. Novel coronavirus was also sent to Mars by the European Space Agency (NASA). Unfortunately, the delay in parachute testing and the outbreak of the new coronavirus caused the mission to be shelved until 2022.
So far, NASA does not expect any delay in the mission. The agency is taking measures to ensure the safety of its staff, giving priority to this task as well as to any manned missions to the space station. If all goes according to plan, perseverance and the Mars helicopter will arrive at the red planet in February 2021.