Many people who are inetrising space exploration are looking forward to the summer of 2020 – that’s when the mission will begin, during which the Mars 2020 and the helicopter accompanying it will fly to the Red Planet to find out if life ever existed on it. Recently, the space agency NASA announced the successful testing of the rover – the researchers believe that he is ready for an independent landing on the planet without interference from the outside. A week later, there was another good news saying that the helicopter had proved its ability to fly in Martian conditions. Testing was carried out in a special chamber with carbon dioxide.
The experiment took place in the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, near Los Angeles. Martian conditions were recreated in a 7.62 meter wide chamber: first, the researchers sucked out all the nitrogen, oxygen and other gases from it, and then filled it with carbon dioxide, the main component of the Martian atmosphere. To ensure weak gravity, scientists used a gravitational unloading system – a strap on the top of a helicopter, providing a force equivalent to two-thirds of gravity.
During the two test takeoffs the helicopter went up by 5 centimeters – to make sure that the device could fly in Martian conditions, this was quite enough. Previous tests proved that the helicopter was able to withstand sudden temperature changes, and the internal heater helped him greatly in this.
The helicopter weighing 1.8 kilograms and box-shaped is equipped with a camera to detect interesting surfaces. When accompanied by the Mars 2020 unit, it will also collect data to compile routes for future missions. After studying his behavior, engineers will be able to build improved vehicles for flights on Mars, correcting all the errors found.