The space agency is looking to make history by sending the autonomous rotorcraft into the skies on the Red planet.
Testing whether “heavier than air vehicles” will work on Mars, NASA is looking to add to its long list of groundbreaking achievements.
“The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling”
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
The exploratory mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020.
“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” added Bridenstine.
“The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.”
“We don’t have a pilot and Earth will be several light minutes away, so there is no way to joystick this mission in real time,” MiMi Aung, the Mars Helicopter Project Manager at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Lab said.
Orders will be sent from Earth to the red planet and the craft will carry it out on its own.
The “Mars Helicopter” weighs less than 1.8kg and its blades rotate more than 10 times as fast as those on Earth.
“The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers,” said NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the science mission directorate.