NASA is sending a robot helicopter to mars where the air is only about 1% as dense as the air on Earth. The helicopter will travel as part of the Mars Rover 2020 mission and arrive to Mars in February of 2021.
Four years of design and testing in a Mars like environment will enable the helicopter to fly in the thin air on Mars.
“The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet. 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,” said Mimi Aung, Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL.
The helicopter will spin it’s blades at 3,000 rpm, 10 times a normal helicopter, to compensate for the thin air. The helicopter will also have a solar panel to recharge batteries and a heater to keep it warm at night.