NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission will launch with an autonomous mini-helicopter, with both scheduled to launch in July of that year and land on the Red Planet in February 2021. This stripped-down chopper will make a maximum of five short journeys in the Martian atmosphere, studying it like never before. It does not come equipped with science instruments, but is fitted with a high-resolution color imager. “We envision helicopters opening doors to new types of exploration on Mars,” said Håvard Grip, flight-control and aerodynamics lead for the Mars Helicopter, during a presentation with NASA’s Future In-Space Operations (FISO) working group. Read more for another video and additional information.
“The Mars Helicopter weighs 4 lbs. (1.8 kilograms) and has a body about the size of a softball. It carries a range of avionics and communications gear, a small solar panel, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, ‘survival heaters’ to keep its electronics warm through the frigid Martian night, and a navigation camera,” according to Space.com.