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Mars-Bound Helicopter Passes Critical NASA flight tests in extreme conditions


Six-wheeled rover on Mars are large, but imagine the helicopter through the Martian atmosphere. Rushing from place to place, the ship will give us a view from the bird's flight to the Red Planet. In order to test the feasibility of this idea, NASA will be sending a rotorcraft to Mars, as well as the recently completed flight tests showed this tiny helicopter is officially ready for prime time.

In July 2020 the rocket United Launch Alliance Atlas V will be launched by the Air Force station at Cape Canaveral in Florida on the way to Mars. On board will be a rover in 2020, but situated in his stomach is tiny, 1.8kg helicopter. Once on Mars and in the air, the aircraft will be the first to fly over the surface of an alien world.

Engineers in the helicopter project Mars Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reached an important milestone with the development, in which the model helicopter has been put through a series of critical flight tests, NASA reported.

Small chopper achieved a controlled and sustained flight in a simulated Martian conditions – a good sign that he will play on the Red Planet, as expected.

"In preparation for the first flight to Mars, we walked for 75 minutes flying time from the engineering model, which was close approximation of our helicopters," said project manager at NASA MiMi Aung press release. "But this is the last test flight model was the real deal. That's our helicopter bound for Mars. We should have seen that it works as advertised. "

Helicopter and rover in 2020, is expected to land on the Red Planet aircraft will not be deployed immediately in February 2021, from NASA saying that the rocket should take place "a few months" in the mission. After deployment, and ready to go, the helicopter will be put through a series of flight tests, no more than 90 seconds.

Helicopter Mars rather skeletal, showing a few bells and whistles. NASA describes it as a "technology demonstrator" – in the real world (or real-world alien) system tests.

The test results will be used to inform the development of more sophisticated flying aircraft designed for Mars. As the helicopter with a camera, for example. That would be so cool.

In fact, the creation of the chopper for Mars & # 39 is the major technological challenges. The device must be able to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations on Mars, including at night, when the temperature drops below -90 °.

1500 Each of the various components in an aircraft, consisting of aluminum, silicon, carbon, foils and foams, would be forced to endure contractions and expansion of the forged rapidly changing environmental conditions.

The ability of the flight depends on the presence of the medium that provides the necessary under & # 39; omnuyu force. The Earth's atmosphere is quite thick, but the same can not be said for Mars, where the atmosphere is super thin – just one percent of what is here on earth. To be fair, these conditions exist in the world, but at an altitude of 30,480m.

Not wanting to check them out a little helicopter in such an extreme altitude, NASA engineers have recreated the conditions inside the JPL Space Simulator. In preparation for flight tests, all gases are sucked from 7.5 m in width of the vacuum chamber and replaced with carbon dioxide, which makes it the same as Mars.

Fortunately, the helicopter was still able to get off the ground, which he did for about a minute, reaching a modest height of 5 cm.

Another problem with Mars & # 39 is its low gravity, which is about 38 percent of Earth's gravity. Mars 1.8kg helicopter will be close to 700g, dramatically altering its flight profile.

Simulating such low gravity was much more of a challenge, but NASA did it with the help of the "gravitational unloading system." In tests, a motorized belt is connected to the top of the helicopter, providing aid equal to 62 percent of the earth there is no gravity.

"Gravity unloading system performed very well, as well as our helicopter," said Teddy Tzanetos, a test vehicle for Mars helicopter at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"We only need a 2-inch (5-centimeter) hover to get all the data sets are needed to confirm that our Mars helicopter flies autonomously as intended in the small Mars-like atmosphere; There was no need to go higher. It was very first flight. "

So, on the 75th test flight in the books, and with the chopper, seemingly ready for the rigors of Mars, this stage of the certification process is complete.

"The next time we fly, we fly to Mars," said Aung.

"Watching our helicopter to go through its paces in the chamber, I could not help but think about the historic cars that were there in the past. The camera accepts the mission to probe Ranger Moon Voyagers to Cassini, and each rover ever flown. To see our helicopter there reminded me that we are on the way to the creation of a small piece of space history, as well. "

Without a doubt, this little helicopter can be the start of something great, giving us a whole new way to explore the surface of another world.

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