Engineers build Mars Helocopter for Mars 2020 Rover

New Helicopter light enough to fly over Mars surface and take hi res pictures of the landscape.


The helo will be light enough and fast enough to get a birds eye view of the Mars landscape. This will be the flagship for more Mars arial vehicles and the first of many more larger and sophisticated arial craft to explore Mars

Mars Helicopter

NASA's Mars Helicopter

NASA's Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency's Mars 2020 rover, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars in July, 2020

Mars Helicopter, a small, rotorcraft will travel with the NASA mission scheduled for launch in July 2020. to demonstrate the potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet. 

“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.”

U.S. Rep. John Culberson of Texas echoed Bridenstine’s appreciation of the impact of American firsts on the future of exploration and discovery.

“It’s fitting that the United States of America is the first nation in history to fly the first heavier-than-air craft on another world,” Culberson said. “This exciting and visionary achievement will inspire young people all over the United States to become scientists and engineers, paving the way for even greater discoveries in the future.”


Started in 2013 as a technology project at NASA’s  (JPL), the Mars Helicopter has to prove that big things could come in small packages. The result of four years of design and testing it weighs in at little under four pounds Its body is about the size of a softball, and its twin blades rotate at 3,000 rpm, 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth.

The helicopter has built in capabilities, needed for Mars, including solar panels to charge its lithium batteries, and a heating to keep it warm from the cold nights on Mars. But before it can fly, the helicopter can fly on Mars it has to arrive there first. It will hitch a ride on the belly of the Mars 2020 rover.

“The record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet in altitude. The atmosphere of Mars is 1% that of Earth, so when NASA’s helicopter is on the surface of Mars, it’s already at an Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet in altitude. To make it fly at that low atmospheric density, we had to scrutinize everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and as powerful as it can possibly be.”


Mars Length of year 687 earth days

One way light time to the sun 11.9 min












23.4393 degrees


























Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen, Argon

Nitrogen, Oxygen


Mars origins

Mars was named by the ancient Romans for their god of war because its reddish color was reminiscent of blood. Other civilizations also named the planet for this attribute; for example, the Egyptians called it "Her Desher," meaning "the red one." Even today, it is frequently called the "Red Planet" because iron minerals in the Martian dirt oxidize, or rust, causing the surface to look red.

Exploring Mars

No planet beyond Earth has been studied as intensely as Mars. Recorded observations of Mars date as far back as the era of ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago, when they charted the planet's movements in the sky. Today, a science fleet of robotic spacecraft study Mars from all angles.

  • Six spacecraft are in orbit at Mars. They are the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Odyssey and Maven. The ESA managed Exomars trace gas orbiter, and the Mars Express,  India's also has their first mars spacecraft (MOM)  Mars Orbiter Mission since 2014.
  • There are two robotic spacecraft on the surface. The Curiosity Rover is exploring the Gale Crater. And NASA's Insight lander, is probing Mars' interior from smooth plain called Elysium Planitia.
  • Both NASA and ESA have plans to send new rovers to Mars in 2020.


The radius of 2,106 miles (3,390 kilometers), Mars is about half the size of Earth. If Earth were the size of a nickel, Mars would be about as big as a raspberry.

From an average distance of 142 million miles (228 million kilometers), Mars is 1.5 astronomical units away from the Sun. One astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU), is the distance from the Sun to Earth. From this distance, it takes sunlight 13 minutes to travel from the Sun to Mars.


Mars' axis of rotation is tilted 25 degrees with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. This is another similarity with Earth, which has an axial tilt of 23.4 degrees. Like Earth, Mars has distinct seasons, but they last longer than seasons here on Earth since Mars takes longer to orbit the Sun (because it's farther away). And while here on Earth the seasons are evenly spread over the year, lasting 3 months (or one quarter of a year), on Mars the seasons vary in length because of Mars' elliptical, egg-shaped orbit around the Sun

As Mars orbits the Sun, it completes one rotation every 24.6 hours, which is very similar to one day on Earth (23.9 hours). Martian days are called sols—short for "solar day." A year on Mars lasts 669.6 sols, which is the same as 687 Earth days.

Spring in the northern hemisphere (autumn in the southern) is the longest season at 194 sols. Autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring in the southern) is the shortest at 142 days. Northern winter/southern summer is 154 sols, and northern summer/southern winter is 178 sols.

Mars has a dense core at its center between 930 and 1,300 miles (1,500 to 2,100 kilometers) in radius. It's made of iron, nickel and sulfur. Surrounding the core is a rocky mantle between 770 and 1,170 miles (1,240 to 1,880 kilometers) thick, and above that, a crust made of iron, magnesium, aluminum, calcium and potassium. This crust is between 6 and 30 miles (10 to 50 kilometers) deep.


When the solar system settled into its current layout about 4.5 billion years ago, Mars formed when gravity pulled swirling gas and dust in to become the fourth planet from the Sun. Mars is about half the size of Earth, and like its fellow terrestrial planets, it has a central core, a rocky mantle and a solid crust.


While Mars is half the diameter of Earth, the surface of Mars has about the same area of dry land as Earth. The volcanoes, and impact craters, and atmospheric conditions such as dust storms have altered Mars for , many,many years, creating the solar system's most interesting topographical features.


The large canyon called Valles Marineris is so long it can stretch from California to New York city, over 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers). The Mars canyon is 200 miles (320 kilometers) at its widest and 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) at its deepest. That's approximately 10 times the size of Earth's Grand Canyon.

NASA images:

Composite image of Mars showing massive canyon stretching across most of its surface. Overlay of United States borders on composite image of Mars's Valles Marineris. The canyon is longer than the U.S. is wide.

Image courtesy of NASA Credit: NASA/Scott Hulme

This infographic uses composite orbiter images and an outline of the United States to show the scale of the Valles Marineris


Mars is home to the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. 3 times the size of Mount Everest and the base, the size of the state of New Mexico.

Mars appears to have had water in the past, with river valley and deltas, and old lakebeds, some of the surface rock could only have formed in liquid water. Some features suggest the planet was flooded about 3.5 billion years ago.

There is water on Mars today, but the Martian atmosphere is too thin for liquid water to exist for long on the surface. Today, water on Mars is found in the form of water-ice just under the surface in the polar regions as well as in briny (salty) water, which seasonally flows down some hillsides and crater walls.


Mars has a thin atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon gases. To our eyes, the sky would be hazy and red because of suspended dust instead of the familiar blue tint we see on Earth. Mars' sparse atmosphere doesn't offer much protection from impacts by such objects as meteorites, asteroids and comets.

The temperature on Mars can be as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) or as low as about -225 degrees Fahrenheit (-153 degrees Celsius). And because the atmosphere is so thin, heat from the Sun easily escapes this planet. If you were to stand on the surface of Mars on the equator at noon, it would feel like spring at your feet (75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius) and winter at your head (32 degrees Fahrenheit).


Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, they might just be captured asteroids.

NASA images

Close up on potato-shaped Phobos

 Mars' largest moon Phobos as seen by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2008. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona.


The moons get their names from the horses of the Greek god of war, Ares. In Greek literature, Phobos means "flight," and Deimos means "fear."

Phobos, is the inner moon and the largest of the 2 moons Phobos is heavily cratered, and has very deep grooves on the surface. It is moving towards the red planet and will crash into it in about 50 million years.

Deimos on the other hand is ½ the size of Phobos its orbits is 2 ½ times farther away from Mars. The odd shaped Deimos is covered by loose dirt that fills the craters on the surface and makes it look smoother than pockilometersarked Phobos.

More information on Mars
Day = 24.6 hours

Year = 669.6 sols | 687 Earth days

Radius = 2,106 miles | 3,390 kilometers

Moons = 2


Once the rover has landed on the surface, and found a suitable location it will deploy the helicopter and place it onto the ground. Then it will drive away from the helicopter a safe distance from it then will relay messages to the Marscopter and after the batteries are fully charged and pre launch  tests are performed, controllers on Earth will launch the Mars Helicopter and it will take its first autonomous flight into history.

“There is no pilot for the Marscopter and Earth will be several light minutes away, there is no way to joystick this mission in real time so instead NASA will have an autonomous capability that will be able to receive and interpret commands from the ground, and then fly the mission on its own.”

The trip will include five flights over a 30 day period with incrementally farther flight distances, up to a few hundred meters, and longer durations as long as 90 seconds, over a period. On its first flight, the helicopter will make a vertical climb to 10 feet, where it will hover for 30 seconds.

NASA quote:

“The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers,” said Zurbuchen. “We already have great views of Mars from the surface as well as from orbit. With the added dimension of a bird’s-eye view from a ‘Marscopter,’ we can only imagine what future missions will achieve.”

Mars 2020 will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and is expected to reach Mars in February 2021.

The fourth planet from the Sun, Mars is a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere.

This dynamic planet has seasons, polar ice caps and weather and canyons and extinct volcanoes, evidence of an even more active past.

Mars is the most explored plant in our solar system other than earth and one of the the only planets where we've sent rovers to explore the landscape.

NASA images

Pathfinder on Mars

Newly Deployed Sojourner Rover




This mosaic comprises about 50 red-, green-, and violet-filter Viking Orbiter images, mosaiced in an orthographic projection at a scale of 1 km/pixel. The images were acquired in 1980 during late northern summer on Mars. Image Credits: NASA/JPL/USGS



10 things to know about Mars



If the Sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be the size of a dime, and Mars would be about as big as an aspirin tablet.



Mars orbits our Sun, a star. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun at an average distance of about 228 million km (142 million miles) or 1.52 AU.



One day on Mars takes a little over 24 hours. Mars makes a complete orbit around the Sun (a year in Martian time) in 687 Earth days.



Mars is a rocky planet. Its solid surface has been altered by volcanoes, impacts, winds, crustal movement and chemical reactions.



Mars has a thin atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide (CO2), argon (Ar), nitrogen (N2), and a small amount of oxygen and water vapor.



Mars has two moons named Phobos and Deimos.



There are no rings around Mars.



Several missions have visited this planet, from flybys and orbiters to rovers on the surface.The first true Mars mission success was the Mariner 4 flyby in 1965.



At this time, Mars' surface cannot support life as we know it. Current missions are determining Mars' past and future potential for life.



Mars is known by the name Red Planet due to iron on the Mars surface that oxidize and create rust, causing the soil and atmosphere to look red.


Mars for kids

Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the size of Earth. Mars is sometimes called the Red Planet. It's red because of rusty iron in the ground.

Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. It has a very thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.

There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds. On some Martian hillsides, there is evidence of liquid salty water in the ground.


For more information on Mars and other planets please visit

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We will update as more information about the 2020 Mars Rover unfolds

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