NASA is reportedly working on developing a drone to explore Mars more effectively than ground-based rover
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is trying to determine whether it should accompany the new rover en route to Mars with an unmanned aerial drone that’ll fly across the surface of Mars. The space organization is examining drone to navigate atmosphere if Mars. The organization believes that, the drone could launch alongside the Mars 2020 rover and it plans to launch manned missions to Mars by 2030. Researchers and Engineers from Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been developing flying vehicles for several years by modifying certain parts and mechanism according to challenging conditions of Mars. The atmospheric pressure on the planet is less than a percent as compared to Earth. Also, its gravity is less strong.
A model of this drone was examined and it was able to fly for an hour and 26 minutes inside a test chamber that simulated the Martian atmosphere. “Some parts were removed from the helicopter to compensate for the 1g field to get the proper relationship of mass and acceleration at Mars, and we did controlled takeoffs, slewing, translations, hovers and controlled landings in the chamber. We’ve done that multiple times,” said Jim Watzin, robotic Mars exploration director at NASA. Watzin reported that NASA will announce the decision to launch drone along with the new rover. If approved, the drone will carry two cameras, one for navigation and the other for taking pictures. According to NASA, it will not travel near the rover to avoid potential collisions. If the drone works effectively, more drones will be sent to Mars for further data collection.
One of the major experiments planned for the rover is to test whether it can transform carbon dioxide into oxygen in Mars, which could be a landmark test to determine whether future astronauts can use the planet’s natural resources to produce air, water, and fuel. The Mars 2020 rover is scheduled to launch in 2020. NASA recently confirmed that it has started entering the assembly, test, and launch stage. Once launched, the journey of rover will be quite long and it is expected to reach Mars by 2021.