The mission called upon to find out whether life has ever existed on the red planet is scheduled to start out in 2020. It will be carried out by Mars 2020 rover accompanied by a small helicopter. NASA recently announced that the helicopter had passed its first tests.
The tests were conducted in the agency’s laboratory located near Los Angeles. For the purpose of assessing the helicopter’s «professional suitability» to operate on Mars, it was placed in a special chamber filled with low concentration carbon dioxide. All other gases have been sucked out, as it is CO2 that makes up the atmosphere of Mars.
Moreover, scientists recreated the red planet’s weak gravity: to do that, they suspended the helicopter on an elastic line. To achieve maximum similarity between the experimental conditions and those on Mars, the device was tested at ultra low temperatures.
Despite all the difficulties, the helicopter showed excellent performance by rising into the air. The device weighs as little as 1.8 kg. It is equipped with a camera to record everything that will be happening during the mission. The device will also collect data on the routes traveled by the Mars rover, which will be used for subsequent missions.
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