NASA announced Friday that it plans to send the first-ever helicopter to Mars in 2020, or to be more specific, a miniature, unmanned drone-like chopper that could boost our understanding of the Red Planet. It’s officially known as “The Mars Helicopter,” weighs less than four pounds, and its main body is about the size of a softball. The helicopter will be attached to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover, which is basically a wheeled robot that will determine the habitability of the Martian environment, while searching for signs of ancient life. Continue reading for another video and more information.
“The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet (12,100 meters). The atmosphere of Mars is only one percent that of Earth, so when our helicopter is on the Martian surface, it’s already at the Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet up (30,500 meters),” said Mimi Aung, Mars Helicopter project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.