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Future Mars helicopters of NASA are being tested on two different planets for the first time ever

NASA conducts tests for its next-generation Mars helicopters by creating a Mars-like atmosphere on Earth as well as through experimental flights on the red planet. Know all about it.

Updated on: Nov 28 2023, 14:22 IST
NASA conducts tests for its future Mars helicopter on both the Earth and the red planet. Check details. (AP)
NASA conducts tests for its future Mars helicopter on both the Earth and the red planet. Check details. (AP)

For the first time ever, NASA has tested its next generation of Mars helicopters in two different worlds. A new rotor for helicopters that will be used in future missions was tested recently at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, while real-life flight simulation was conducted on Mars through the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which broke altitude and airspeed records during an experimental flight. The NASA team was surprised by the performance of the new Mars helicopter while conducting the test. Know the details.

NASA's future Mars helicopter tests

According to a NASA report, the space agency created a Mars atmosphere on Earth with the help of JPL's 25-foot wide, 85-foot-tall space simulator where the Surveyor, Voyager, and Cassini were tested. The new rotor’s blades were used for the testing which was 4 inches long, greater than the ingenuity Mars Helicopter. The test was monitored for three weeks in September, during which NASA monitored sensors, meters, and cameras of the blades at different high speeds and pitch angles.

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Tyler Del Sesto, Sample Recovery Helicopter deputy test conductor at JPL said, “We spun our blades up to 3,500 rpm, which is 750 revolutions per minute faster than the Ingenuity blades have gone. These more efficient blades are now more than a hypothetical exercise. They are ready to fly.”

Also read: NASA Mars smallsat mission, ESCAPADE, to take off on Blue Origin's 1st New Glenn launch vehicle

On the other hand, the ingenuity Mars Helicopter is exceeding expectations on Mars as the team conducts new flight tests. NASA’s ingenuity helicopter was slated to conduct studies for 30 days, however, the mission has completed more than two years on Mars. The ingenuity teams have been testing new capabilities of the helicopter by increasing the maximum airspeed and altitude. These tests could help scientists to build a robust helicopter for future missions.

So far, the Mars helicopter has achieved 66 flights, and with the 61st flight, it achieved a new altitude record of 78.7 feet. Additionally, the team is also testing the helicopter’s landing speed for slower landing. The team in December also plans to test Ingenuity’s two high-speed flights with a special set of pitch-and-roll angles.

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First Published Date: 28 Nov, 14:05 IST