NASA aforementioned on weekday it’ll send a little heavier-than-air craft to Mars as a part of the North American nation area agency’s 2020 mission to put a next-generation rover on the Martian surface, marking the primary time such AN craft are used on another world.

The pilotless Mars heavier-than-air craft, designed to require flight within the skinny Martian atmosphere with twin counter-rotating blades, weighs concerning four pounds (1.8 kilograms), with a body the dimensions of a softball, NASA said. Its blades can spin at virtually three,000 rpm, roughly ten times the speed used by helicopters on Earth.

“The altitude record for a heavier-than-air craft flying here on Earth is concerning forty,000 feet (12,200 meters). The atmosphere of Mars is merely common fraction that of Earth, therefore once our heavier-than-air craft is on the Martian surface, it’s already at the planet equivalent of one hundred,000 feet (30,480 meters) up,” Mimi Aung, the Mars heavier-than-air craft project manager at NASA’s reaction propulsion Laboratory, aforementioned during a statement.

NASA officers aforementioned the rotorcraft can reach the Red Planet’s surface connected to the car-sized rover. when putting the heavier-than-air craft on the bottom, the rover are directed to drive to a secure distance to relay commands. Controllers on Earth can command the heavier-than-air craft to require its 1st autonomous flight when its batteries square measure charged and tests square measure conducted, NASA said.

“The plan of a heavier-than-air craft flying the skies of another planet is thrilling,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine aforementioned during a statement.

The heavier-than-air craft is meant to demonstrate the viability and quality of such craft on Mars, NASA said, with potential roles as a low-flying scout or to achieve locations inaccessible from the bottom.

NASA aforementioned it plans a 30-day flight period that may embrace up to 5 flights, beginning with a brief vertical jaunt to hover for concerning thirty seconds at AN altitude of ten feet (3 meters) and attending to flight distances up to some hundred yards and durations up to ninety seconds.

The heavier-than-air craft contains star cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries and a heating mechanism to stay it heat throughout frigid nights.

The Mars 2020 rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Everglade State and reach Mars in Gregorian calendar month 2021. The rover is intended to hold out geologic studies and ascertain the habitability of the Martian atmosphere, NASA said.