SEP 02, 2019 6:14 AM PDT

Martian Helicopter Attached to the Mars 2020 Rover Chassis

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It seems like this past week was a particularly productive one for the team over at NASA. Not only were the two halves of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) mated together for the very first time since the project’s conception, but it also appears that NASA engineers have made significant progress on the Mars 2020 mission, which is poised to launch sometime next year to explore on its journey to Mars.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Mars 2020 rover, along with the fully autonomous drone-like helicopter that NASA plans to send to the red planet with it, are currently residing at the High Bay 1 clean room situated at the American space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. But that’s not all; it appears that NASA engineers have attached the small aircraft to the Mars 2020 rover’s car-sized chassis.

Related: The Mars 2020 rover will sport 20/20 vision

Citing an official statement regarding this achievement, engineers purportedly set the autonomous helicopter on a specialized plate that resides on the rover’s underbelly. A cover will be installed over the plate and the helicopter to protect the helicopter from dust and heat as the Mars 2020 descends from the Martian atmosphere and lands on the red planet’s sandy terrain.

"With this joining of two great spacecraft, I can say definitively that all the pieces are in place for a historic mission of exploration," commented Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. "Together, Mars 2020 and the Mars Helicopter will help define the future of science and exploration of the Red Planet for decades to come."

Related: An inside look at the progress that's being made on the Mars 2020 mission

NASA employed this dual-rotor and solar-powered flight vehicle to explore the ‘hard-to-reach’ places on Mars and assist the Mars 2020 rover in finding captivating places to explore. The little flying vehicle will carry a camera, but it won’t have any science instruments onboard because it will be the first vehicle to conduct powered flight on another planet besides Earth and is very much a proof of concept in addition to an aide for the Mars 2020 rover.

The Mars 2020 mission is expected to take flight next Summer, in July 2020, and it should arrive at Mars the following year, on February 18, 2021. NASA has specifically chosen Jezero Crater as the mission’s landing site, but it will likely venture far away from this location as it conducts its long-term service life. 

Source: NASA JPL

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 01, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 01, 2019
Jupiter's Great Red Spot May Not Be Dying After All
Most people recognize Jupiter as the largest known planet in our solar system, but there’s another eccentric quality about the planet that helps it s...
DEC 06, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 06, 2019
The most memorable space events of 2019
This year was one of the most exciting ones for all of the space geeks around the world. Many discoveries and once in a lifetime events happened...
DEC 16, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 16, 2019
Here's What Would Happen if the Earth Stopped Orbiting the Sun
The Earth orbits the Sun once every 365 days, or one full year. It does this while whizzing through the vacuum of space at break-neck speeds of up to 110,0...
DEC 19, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 19, 2019
The Science Behind Christmas
The holiday season is upon us, and to wrap-up the year and get you into the holiday spirit, we are dedicating the last infographic to Christmas. After all, what's a better way to celebrate...
FEB 03, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 03, 2020
How NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft is Studying Mars' Ionosphere
If you ever listen to the radio and experience a phenomenon in which the broadcast sounds garbled or as if another radio station is attempting to play over...
MAR 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 30, 2020
If Gravity Has Mass, This Could Explain Dark Energy
The Big Bang purportedly transpired 13.8 billion years ago, and even so, the universe continues to expand even today. But if that thought alone wasn’...
Loading Comments...