In approximately two years, NASA will launch the uncrewed Mars 2020 mission to the Red Planet. The probe development and launch would cost the US space agency about $2.2 billion, making it cheaper than the ongoing Mars Curiosity Rover, for example. But what makes it unique is that the probe will deploy a drone on Mars thanks to the collaboration between NASA and AeroVironment.
A faster exploration of the Red Planet
For instance, the Curiosity rover is slowly rolling on the Martian surface at a top velocity of about 1/10th of a mile per hour. Even more, Curiosity traveled only 12 miles on Mars to date, so NASA’s Curiosity, which landed on the Red Planet in 2012, is moving at 2 miles per year.
For that reason, NASA considered various methods to run a faster exploration of our reddish neighbor planet, and they came up with the idea to deploy flying drones on Mars.
Now, the US space agency got help from the AeroVironment company which is specialized in drones.
NASA will deploy an AeroVironment drone on Mars during the Mars 2020 mission
Back in 2001, NASA employed AeroVironment to build and fly a drone, the so-called Helios Prototype. Helios was a lightweight solar-powered flying drone which hovered at about 100,000 feet above the Earth.
Thanks to the excellent results AeroVironment’s Helios drone had in 2001, the before-mentioned company was the best choice for NASA for achieving its goal of deploying a flying drone on Mars.
Accordingly, NASA recently hired AeroVironment, once again, to build for them an “airframe and major subsystems, including a rotor, rotor blades, hub, and control mechanism hardware,” as the US space agency’s officials stated last week during a press conference.
AeroVironment has already built for NASA the so-called Mars Helicopter
Earlier this year, NASA employed AeroVironment to make two test drones dubbed as Mars Helicopter. These flying machines were created in cooperation with the NASA’s JPL.
As we speak, the US space agency works with AeroVironment to build the final version of the drone which will be deployed on Mars during the Mars 2020 mission.