China creates a model miniature helicopter for Mars missions
China has created a prototype miniature helicopter for surveillance work on future Mars missions, as per its space science agency, following the historic landing of a robotic rover on Mars a few months ago.
The prototype is alike in appearance to the robotic helicopter Ingenuity, created by NASA for its Perseverance mission this year, according to a photo shared on the website of China’s National Space Science Center.
The agency said that the helicopter could be a tool for China’s follow-up exploration on Mars, but it did not provide details.
China landed a Mars rover in May in its first-ever mission to the planet, becoming the 2nd country after the US to do so. NASA’s most advanced rover, Perseverance, landed on Mars in February.
From the NASA rover, Ingenuity made its inaugural flight in April, rising about 3 meters above the surface, in humankind’s first successful deployment of a powered aircraft in a world other than Earth.
The challenge for the 1.8 kg Ingenuity is the planet’s thin atmosphere, which is just 1% as dense as Earth’s.
To compensate for the lack of aerodynamic lift, NASA engineers prepared Ingenuity with rotor blades that are larger 1.2 meters tip to tip, and spin faster than required on Earth for an aircraft of its size.
According to the picture, the Chinese prototype sports 2 rotor blades, a sensor-and-camera base and thin legs. But there is no solar panel at the top like Ingenuity.
Ingenuity has prepared more than 10 outings since April, covering an overall distance of more than 2 km with a flight time of about 20 minutes in all.
China is scheduling its first crewed mission to Mars in 2033.
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