Discussion:
OT Planned - NASA Is Actually Sending a Helicopter to Mars
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a425couple
2018-05-13 13:04:19 UTC
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Yes, NASA Is Actually Sending a Helicopter to Mars:
Here's What It Will Do
By Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor | May 12, 2018 12:00am ET

NASA will include a small, autonomous helicopter in the agency's
upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission, officials announced today (May 11).
The craft will undergo a 30-day test campaign once it reaches the Red
Planet to demonstrate the viability of travel above the Martian surface
with a heavier-than-air craft.

"NASA has a proud history of firsts," NASA's administrator, Jim
Bridenstine, said in a statement. "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." [Red Planet Express: 10 Ways Robots Move on Mars]

The Mars Helicopter's development began in 2013 at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL) in California. It's just under 4 lbs. (1.8 kilograms),
and its body is about the size of a softball, NASA officials said in the
statement. It will carry solar cells to charge up in the light of the
sun and a heating mechanism to endure cold nights on the Red Planet.

NASA's Mars Helicopter, a small autonomous rotorcraft, will explore Mars
with the 2020 rover as a technology demonstration for heavier-than-air
vehicles on the Red Planet.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The helicopter's twin blades will whirl at about 10 times the rate of a
helicopter's blades on Earth — at 3,000 rpm — to stay aloft in Mars'
thin atmosphere.

"The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about
40,000 feet [12,000 meters]," MiMi Aung, Mars Helicopter project manager
at JPL, said in the statement. "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 [30,000 m] up.

"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," she added.

Mars 2020 is slated to launch in July of that year on United Launch
Alliance's Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in
Florida, and the mission should arrive at Mars in February 2021. The
six-wheeled rover will hunt for signs of habitable environments as well
as sites that may have once hosted microbial life, examining the Red
Planet with 23 cameras, a microphone and a drill to collect samples.

NASA will send a tiny helicopter to Mars along with its next rover in
July 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech
The helicopter will ride to Mars attached to the rover's belly pan,
officials said. Once the rover reaches the planet's surface, it will
place the helicopter on the ground and move to a safe distance to relay
commands; controllers on Earth will direct it to take its first
autonomous flight.

"We don't have a pilot, and Earth will be several light-minutes away, so
there is no way to joystick this mission in real time," Aung said.
"Instead, we 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 helicopter will attempt up to five flights, going farther and
operating for longer each time — up to a few hundred meters and 90
seconds, officials said. It will also climb to 10 feet (3 m) and hover
for about 30 seconds.

The Mars Helicopter is considered a high-risk, high-reward project,
according to NASA: If the helicopter fails, it won't affect the rest of
the Mars 2020 rover's mission, but if it succeeds, the agency will have
a powerful new tool to survey the planet and access currently
unreachable locations.

"Exploring the Red Planet with NASA's Mars Helicopter exemplifies a
successful marriage of science and technology innovation and is a unique
opportunity to advance Mars exploration for the future," Thomas
Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission
Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in
the statement. "After the Wright Brothers proved 117 years ago that
powered, sustained, and controlled flight was possible here on Earth,
another group of American pioneers may prove the same can be done on
another world.

"The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial
for future explorers," he added. "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."

Email Sarah Lewin at ***@space.com or follow her @SarahExplains.
Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

EDITOR'S RECOMMENDATIONS
The Boldest Mars Missions in History
The Best (And Worst) Mars Landings in History
How a Helicopter Drone Could Fly on Mars

comments include:

John Ricci · Associate Professor, Department of Biomaterials, College of
Dentistry at New York University
Actually, since the drone "helicopter" can cover a lot more territory
than the rover, it makes a lot of sense. Modifying a drone for ths
mission probably makes it the most expensive drone ever, but it is
probably still a bargain considering the limited range and speed of the
rover. Besides, it will be one more UFO for the Martians to worry about.
Like · Reply · 14m

Bob Forsberg · Lake Forest, California
Save the taxpayers money and build in the deserts if these wasteful
government types think people actually want to live on Mars.
Like · Reply · 1h

Nosca Khalid · Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Huh! It is a drone not an helicopter and NASA can send more than one to
ensure that one or all will fly.
Like · Reply · 5h

Michael Fellion
Attempt 5 flights, This is why the USA is broke and 20 trillion in the
hole. The government does this on a whole lot of things. Spends billions
, hundreds of billions on throw away things. I bet the stupid machine
costs millions of dollars , each flight will cost a million bucks, They
could have spent the money on making the main mission more capable,
instead they engage in a publicity stunt that has zero actual science
value. If you look at the physics of the thing, the battery runs out in
less than a minute of operation, recharging the machine takes days so
the five flights are going to be over months when all the delays are
built in and the total flight distance will be at most a hundred feet.
Like · Reply · 1 · 8h

Ken Orc · Traveling Shamans at Middle Earth
Take your damned whining somewhere else! This is totally cool and all
you can do is fart in the wind.
Like · Reply · 1 · 6h

John Viands · Virginia Beach, Virginia
You are correct, Michael. It is a publicity stunt with no scientific value.

It may or may not be fun or interesting, but science? That it ain't.
Like · Reply · 1 · 33m

Jeff Jones · Toccoa, Georgia
If it's only the size of a softball, go ahead and pack two of them. In
case the first one fails.
Like · Reply · 1 · 9h

Michael Fellion
The rocket does not have the power to do that. The mission is figured
out for a certain weight which gets you to a certain size of rocket,
there is no wiggle room to additional weight. What they should do is
junk the stupid stunt and put more into the actual mission vehicle.
Like · Reply · 1 · 8h
Kevrob
2018-05-13 16:19:24 UTC
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..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.

Kevin R
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-05-13 18:01:41 UTC
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Post by a425couple
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..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.
The Greek roots are "helico-" and "pter," so "Arescopter" would still
be a monstrosity. (Seriously, that's the technical term for
etymologically-corrupt coinages, not a judgment on my part.)

"Areopter" would be a valid coinage.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
Kevrob
2018-05-13 18:44:26 UTC
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Post by Kevrob
Post by a425couple
from
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..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.
The Greek roots are "helico-" and "pter," so "Arescopter" would still
be a monstrosity. (Seriously, that's the technical term for
etymologically-corrupt coinages, not a judgment on my part.)
"Areopter" would be a valid coinage.
Much better. Would you drop the "s" from "Ares?"
Compare to "ornithopter.

Kevin R
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-05-13 21:05:32 UTC
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Post by a425couple
from
https://www.space.com/40570-nasa-sending-helicopter-to-mars.html
..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.
The Greek roots are "helico-" and "pter," so "Arescopter" would still
be a monstrosity. (Seriously, that's the technical term for
etymologically-corrupt coinages, not a judgment on my part.)
"Areopter" would be a valid coinage.
Much better. Would you drop the "s" from "Ares?"
Compare to "ornithopter.
Thing is, both in Latin and in Greek the nominative case (used
when the noun is the subject of the sentence) is frequently very
different from all the other cases.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-05-14 00:55:28 UTC
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Post by Kevrob
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
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Post by a425couple
from
https://www.space.com/40570-nasa-sending-helicopter-to-mars.html
..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.
The Greek roots are "helico-" and "pter," so "Arescopter" would still
be a monstrosity. (Seriously, that's the technical term for
etymologically-corrupt coinages, not a judgment on my part.)
"Areopter" would be a valid coinage.
Much better. Would you drop the "s" from "Ares?"
Compare to "ornithopter.
Yes, you drop the S. I don't know the actual rules of Greek grammar,
but I know that the combining form is "areo-."
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-05-14 01:06:07 UTC
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Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Kevrob
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Kevrob
Post by a425couple
from
https://www.space.com/40570-nasa-sending-helicopter-to-mars.html
..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.
The Greek roots are "helico-" and "pter," so "Arescopter" would still
be a monstrosity. (Seriously, that's the technical term for
etymologically-corrupt coinages, not a judgment on my part.)
"Areopter" would be a valid coinage.
Much better. Would you drop the "s" from "Ares?"
Compare to "ornithopter.
Yes, you drop the S. I don't know the actual rules of Greek grammar,
but I know that the combining form is "areo-."
/grabs Greek dictionary

Yes. The nominative is Ares (with a long e); the genitive is
Areos (with a short e and a short o) or Areos (with a short e and a
long o). So the combining stem, either way, is Areo-.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-05-13 21:04:10 UTC
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Post by a425couple
from
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..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.
So it might; but since both "Mars" and "copter" have been
thoroughly Americanized, the lamentable practice of combining
Latin and Greek roots will undoubtedly continue.

Hal's been keeping a close eye on the news from Hawaii, and notes
that "real estate Hawai'ian" is a prevalent thing, comparable to
"real estate Spanish" in Caifornia.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Greg Goss
2018-05-14 01:37:40 UTC
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Post by Kevrob
Post by a425couple
from
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..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.
English as a language loves bastardy. Marscopter it is.
--
We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-05-14 04:01:46 UTC
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Post by Greg Goss
Post by Kevrob
Post by a425couple
from
https://www.space.com/40570-nasa-sending-helicopter-to-mars.html
..... view from a 'marscopter,' we can only imagine what future
missions will achieve."
"Helicopter" has Greek roots. "Arescopter" might be better.
English as a language loves bastardy. Marscopter it is.
--
We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
Well, that's true.

Or. as James famously put it,
Post by Greg Goss
The problem with defending the purity of the English language
is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't
just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other
languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their
pockets for new vocabulary.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
a425couple
2018-05-13 19:22:31 UTC
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Here's What It Will Do
By Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor | May 12, 2018 12:00am ET
Similar story, IMHO better video

https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/11/17346414/nasa-mars-2020-helicopter-atmosphere

NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars to get a bird’s-eye view of the planet

The Mars Helicopter is happening, y’all
By Loren ***@lorengrush May 11, 2018, 6:10pm EDT
SHARE
Image: NASA
When NASA launches its next rover to Mars, the vehicle will have a small
helicopter along for the ride. NASA announced today that it will be
sending a small autonomous flying chopper — aptly named the Mars
Helicopter — with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. The helicopter will
attempt to fly through the Martian air to see if vehicles can even
levitate on Mars, where the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than that of
Earth.

The design for the Mars Helicopter has been in the works for the last
four years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but the space agency had
yet to decide if it was actually going to send the vehicle to Mars. NASA
needed to determine if this technology was actually feasible and if the
agency had enough money in its budget to include the copter, according
to Spaceflight Now. Now it seems that the agency has decided that this
copter idea could actually work.

But even if the helicopter fails to fly, it won’t affect the overall
mission of the Mars 2020 rover — the successor to NASA’s Curiosity rover
which is already on the Red Planet’s surface. But if the Mars Helicopter
does indeed fly, it’ll be able to capture a rare bird’s-eye-view of Mars
with its two cameras, something that’s never been done before. And that
may mean it’s possible to send future flying vehicles to Mars to scout
out locations that are hard to access.

Engineers at JPL have been working to get the weight and shape of the
helicopter just right, so that it can fly through the thin Mars air. The
highest any helicopter has flown on Earth is 40,000 feet high. But the
Mars Helicopter will be flying in an atmosphere that’s as thin as
altitudes of 100,000 feet on Earth, according to NASA. So the robot has
to be tiny and light: it weighs in at just four pounds (1.8 kilograms)
on Earth and is about the size of a softball. The copter also sports
twin blades that rotate 10 times faster than helicopter’s here on our
planet.

The plan is for the Mars Helicopter to fly attached to the underside of
the Mars 2020 rover. Once the rover lands on the planet’s surface, it
will then find a good place to set down the copter, deploy it, and then
roll away. Eventually, the helicopter will try to take off, and it’ll
have to do the flight completely on its own, too. Since Earth is so far
away from Mars, it will take several minutes to send the helicopter
commands. Ultimately, the vehicle will try to do five autonomous flights
over a 30-day period; the trips could last up to 90 seconds.

“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
said in a statement on Friday afternoon, in the middle of SpaceX’s Block
5 launch. “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.”

The Mars 2020 rover is slated to launch on top of an Atlas V rocket,
made by the United Launch Alliance, from Cape Canaveral, Florida in July
2020. The spacecraft will then land on Mars in February of 2021.

With the landing of SpaceX’s powerful new Falcon 9, a new era of rocket
reusability takes off
ULA picks an engine for its next generation rocket — just not the main one
Don’t listen to Big Cattle — lab-grown meat should still be called “meat”
a425couple
2018-05-13 19:39:32 UTC
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Post by a425couple
Post by a425couple
from
https://www.space.com/40570-nasa-sending-helicopter-to-mars.html
Here's What It Will Do
By Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor | May 12, 2018 12:00am ET
Similar story, IMHO better video
https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/11/17346414/nasa-mars-2020-helicopter-atmosphere
NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars to get a bird’s-eye view of the planet
The Mars Helicopter is happening, y’all
SHARE
Image: NASA
When NASA launches its next rover to Mars, the vehicle will have a small
helicopter along for the ride. NASA announced today that it will be
sending a small autonomous flying chopper — aptly named the Mars
Helicopter — with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. The helicopter will
attempt to fly through the Martian air to see if vehicles can even
levitate on Mars, where the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than that of
Earth.
some interesting comments
THERE ARE 31 COMMENTS.
darthsidious
Anyone know the name of the new rover? After the excitement of the last
one, I will be watching the entire stream live for sure!

Posted on May 11, 2018 | 6:24 PM
Ross Nicholson
Balloons would be far cheaper, far more practical, than a helicopter.
It’s not like there are places we need to go to specifically on Mars
when we know almost nothing about the whole planet. There are no
powerlines to prevent free navigation. Balloons won’t need energy to
move around, either, and they therefore won’t be radioactive when the
Astronauts arrive.
Incidentally, I worked on Star Wars with Stevie Spielberg as a kid.
Darth Vader was taken by "Dark Invader".

Posted on May 11, 2018 | 8:38 PM
badasscat1
NASA is way ahead of you:
https://mars.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/missiontypes/balloons/

But they’re two different types of missions. Small helicopters offer
precise control and quick missions at relatively low altitudes. A
balloon takes a while to get up, a while to go anywhere and a while to
get back down, and you can’t really control it while it’s flying unless
you attach some rotors to it, which add weight and reduce efficiency.
Mars does have winds too so you could end up getting blown around, which
the rotors might not be able to counteract (they’d have to be very small
to save on weight, since these balloons would have to be using hot air
from Mars that isn’t very dense; it’s not like it’d be carrying a supply
of helium with it).

So balloons could serve a purpose, but it’d be more of a "let’s survey
the general area we landed in" kind of thing, or maybe a rover could
drive the balloon somewhere else and send it up for a few minutes. But a
helicopter could actually travel somewhere specific on its own, and
somewhere the rover couldn’t even get to, giving you a birds’ eye view
all the way there.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 12:53 AM
filmantopia
Why give up all of your secrets when you could start your own space
agency and crush NASA?

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:05 PM
Osman Gokhan Bas
You should work for NASA if you think you’re smarter than them.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 11:20 AM
mksh
Balloons essentially "float" on the atmosphere.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the martian atmosphere is 100 times
thinner than the earths atmosphere, you’d need a balloon 100 times the
size of a balloon on earth to create the same lift (depending on the
consistance of the atmosphere).

I remember the enormous size of the balloons used by Felix Baumgartner
and others to reach their record balloon jumps. I’d guess you’d need
similar balloon-to-weight ratios on Mars.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:14 PM
Cyberax
No, only about 5 times larger. Volume scales as the cube of the linear size.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 6:04 PM
mksh
I’m not entirely sure how to interpret your reply.

A balloon lifts if the average density of the balloon (including
whatever attached to it) is lower than the average density of the
surrounding atmosphere.

If the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than on earth, this means the
average density of the balloon+payload would have to be 100 less as
well. I’d say this would roughly translate to a 100x bigger balloon –
unless I’m missing something. I say roughly, because I guess the
composition of the mars atmosphere isn’t identical, and the increased
weight of the balloon itself would impact the question as well.

When saying "100x the size", obviously, this means 100x the volume. Like
a 20l fishbowl is twice the size of a 10l one (or any other 3d object,
if you prefer)

Posted on May 13, 2018 | 3:25 AM
pwucker
The point is valid – volume does not scale in a linear fashion as you
increase the radius of a sphere.

A sphere with a 1 metre radius has around 4.2 cubic metres of volume.
Increase the radius to 2m, and the volume becomes 33.5 cubic metres –
nearly 8 times the original volume.

With a 3m radius, it’s 113 cubic metres, and so on.

Posted on May 13, 2018 | 8:18 AM
eschwiz
Not that there is any chance of this happening. But NASA should consult
with DJI if they want some tips on drones.

Posted on May 11, 2018 | 8:43 PM
ibelli
I wouldn’t be surprised if they already did…

Posted on May 11, 2018 | 9:48 PM
YellowDucky
…or American contractors since DJI isn’t an American company. I think
you’re overestimating DJI here.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 12:33 AM
graha.me
not to mention underestimating NASA.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 7:04 AM
andy.gates.9887
Multicopters ignore weight penalties by brute-forcing lots of air with
lots of motors; there’s a reason heavy quads are still prototypes. They
need different speeds for each rotor, which is where the many-motors
requirement comes in: it’s impractical to have one and 4 gearboxes.

Mars doesn’t have lots of air, so a Mars flyer has to be really
lightweight – and that means going back to mass-efficient if
mechanically complex helicopter-style collective rotor designs. That 1%
atmosphere guides the whole design.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 9:11 AM
ibelli
What powers the copter?

Posted on May 11, 2018 | 9:47 PM
andy.gates.9887
Battery, and a small solar panel (the blue hat in pictures). When low
it’ll land and recharge.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 9:12 AM
phoneboy101
Will it have self-righting tech when landed? Surface winds could knock
it over while charging.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 6:58 PM
filmantopia
Will have to stop at gas stations along the highway.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:06 PM
bhargavbuddy
I think it would be very hard. The cabin of the copter must be pretty
light-weight for the rotors to even generate lift in that thin atmosphere.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 2:56 AM
theagentsmith
To the author: Thank you for the kilograms!

Interesting concept, pretty sure they done some simulations, the power
to weight must be very, very big

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:42 AM
andy.gates.9887
They’ve done more than simulations, they’ve got one working in a
near-vacuum chamber. Nice discussion of the details here:
https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/03/15/nasa-to-decide-soon-whether-flying-drone-will-launch-with-mars-2020-rover/

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 9:13 AM
majikthise
what a total waste of time and money. please defund this stupid
$55million mars toy drone immediately. oh great you can fly it 10ft high
for 90 seconds and get some amazing pics. pics of rocks! god what a
waste. this is what is wrong with nasa and their lazy over-paid
"scientists". they should think for a damn minute before wasting money
on crap like this. there is absolutely zero reason for this to exist.
mars is a terrible place to have rotor based flight machines. and just
to get up 10ft??? mars is a desert wasteland anyway. no life, never was
any. just stop wasting everyone’s time and money already.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 4:55 AM
graha.me
ok

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 7:05 AM
samwichse
Meanwhile, real Americans support exploration and experimentation for
their own sakes.

I don’t know what you are… some kind of bog-dwelling slime turtle,
perhaps? Happy to live it’s life in the muck and never leave the safety
of it’s home puddle?

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 7:24 AM
eschwiz
So what would you have a space program do/spend money on?

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 10:05 AM
Osman Gokhan Bas
Now that I know you exist… World got a little worst.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 11:18 AM
filmantopia
We could be putting that relatively paltry amount of money toward the
already gigantic budget for more foreign wars so that military
industrial complex oligarchs can reap massive profits off of human
suffering and death.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:11 PM
Cyberax
Agreed. We need to give back more money shamelessly stolen from the
people of the United States. Such courageous and brave people as
Comcast, Disney and Exxon.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 6:06 PM
mintas lanxor
Word on the street is that Amazon is readying a fleet of drones for Mars
delivery.

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 5:20 PM
Oxenbridge
Hi


The Mars Helicopter is happening, y’all
When will we be nuking the place soon too?

Posted on May 12, 2018 | 5:55 PM
Plazmic Flame
LOLLLL
J. Clarke
2018-05-13 21:06:03 UTC
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On Sun, 13 May 2018 12:39:32 -0700, a425couple
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Post by a425couple
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Here's What It Will Do
By Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor | May 12, 2018 12:00am ET
Similar story, IMHO better video
https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/11/17346414/nasa-mars-2020-helicopter-atmosphere
NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars to get a bird’s-eye view of the planet
The Mars Helicopter is happening, y’all
SHARE
Image: NASA
When NASA launches its next rover to Mars, the vehicle will have a small
helicopter along for the ride. NASA announced today that it will be
sending a small autonomous flying chopper — aptly named the Mars
Helicopter — with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. The helicopter will
attempt to fly through the Martian air to see if vehicles can even
levitate on Mars, where the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than that of
Earth.
some interesting comments
THERE ARE 31 COMMENTS.
darthsidious
Anyone know the name of the new rover? After the excitement of the last
one, I will be watching the entire stream live for sure!
Posted on May 11, 2018 | 6:24 PM
Ross Nicholson
Balloons would be far cheaper, far more practical, than a helicopter.
It’s not like there are places we need to go to specifically on Mars
when we know almost nothing about the whole planet. There are no
powerlines to prevent free navigation. Balloons won’t need energy to
move around, either, and they therefore won’t be radioactive when the
Astronauts arrive.
Incidentally, I worked on Star Wars with Stevie Spielberg as a kid.
Darth Vader was taken by "Dark Invader".
I would like to see a cost comparison of a balloon vs a helicopter per
pound of payload that each carries for payloads under 10 pounds,
noting that the cost includes shipment of all components to Mars.
Post by a425couple
Posted on May 11, 2018 | 8:38 PM
badasscat1
https://mars.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/missiontypes/balloons/
But they’re two different types of missions. Small helicopters offer
precise control and quick missions at relatively low altitudes. A
balloon takes a while to get up, a while to go anywhere and a while to
get back down, and you can’t really control it while it’s flying unless
you attach some rotors to it, which add weight and reduce efficiency.
Mars does have winds too so you could end up getting blown around, which
the rotors might not be able to counteract (they’d have to be very small
to save on weight, since these balloons would have to be using hot air
from Mars that isn’t very dense; it’s not like it’d be carrying a supply
of helium with it).
So balloons could serve a purpose, but it’d be more of a "let’s survey
the general area we landed in" kind of thing, or maybe a rover could
drive the balloon somewhere else and send it up for a few minutes. But a
helicopter could actually travel somewhere specific on its own, and
somewhere the rover couldn’t even get to, giving you a birds’ eye view
all the way there.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 12:53 AM
filmantopia
Why give up all of your secrets when you could start your own space
agency and crush NASA?
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:05 PM
Osman Gokhan Bas
You should work for NASA if you think you’re smarter than them.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 11:20 AM
mksh
Balloons essentially "float" on the atmosphere.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the martian atmosphere is 100 times
thinner than the earths atmosphere, you’d need a balloon 100 times the
size of a balloon on earth to create the same lift (depending on the
consistance of the atmosphere).
I remember the enormous size of the balloons used by Felix Baumgartner
and others to reach their record balloon jumps. I’d guess you’d need
similar balloon-to-weight ratios on Mars.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:14 PM
Cyberax
No, only about 5 times larger. Volume scales as the cube of the linear size.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 6:04 PM
mksh
I’m not entirely sure how to interpret your reply.
A balloon lifts if the average density of the balloon (including
whatever attached to it) is lower than the average density of the
surrounding atmosphere.
If the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than on earth, this means the
average density of the balloon+payload would have to be 100 less as
well. I’d say this would roughly translate to a 100x bigger balloon –
unless I’m missing something. I say roughly, because I guess the
composition of the mars atmosphere isn’t identical, and the increased
weight of the balloon itself would impact the question as well.
When saying "100x the size", obviously, this means 100x the volume. Like
a 20l fishbowl is twice the size of a 10l one (or any other 3d object,
if you prefer)
Posted on May 13, 2018 | 3:25 AM
pwucker
The point is valid – volume does not scale in a linear fashion as you
increase the radius of a sphere.
A sphere with a 1 metre radius has around 4.2 cubic metres of volume.
Increase the radius to 2m, and the volume becomes 33.5 cubic metres –
nearly 8 times the original volume.
With a 3m radius, it’s 113 cubic metres, and so on.
Posted on May 13, 2018 | 8:18 AM
eschwiz
Not that there is any chance of this happening. But NASA should consult
with DJI if they want some tips on drones.
Posted on May 11, 2018 | 8:43 PM
ibelli
I wouldn’t be surprised if they already did…
Posted on May 11, 2018 | 9:48 PM
YellowDucky
…or American contractors since DJI isn’t an American company. I think
you’re overestimating DJI here.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 12:33 AM
graha.me
not to mention underestimating NASA.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 7:04 AM
andy.gates.9887
Multicopters ignore weight penalties by brute-forcing lots of air with
lots of motors; there’s a reason heavy quads are still prototypes. They
need different speeds for each rotor, which is where the many-motors
requirement comes in: it’s impractical to have one and 4 gearboxes.
Mars doesn’t have lots of air, so a Mars flyer has to be really
lightweight – and that means going back to mass-efficient if
mechanically complex helicopter-style collective rotor designs. That 1%
atmosphere guides the whole design.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 9:11 AM
ibelli
What powers the copter?
Posted on May 11, 2018 | 9:47 PM
andy.gates.9887
Battery, and a small solar panel (the blue hat in pictures). When low
it’ll land and recharge.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 9:12 AM
phoneboy101
Will it have self-righting tech when landed? Surface winds could knock
it over while charging.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 6:58 PM
filmantopia
Will have to stop at gas stations along the highway.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:06 PM
bhargavbuddy
I think it would be very hard. The cabin of the copter must be pretty
light-weight for the rotors to even generate lift in that thin atmosphere.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 2:56 AM
theagentsmith
To the author: Thank you for the kilograms!
Interesting concept, pretty sure they done some simulations, the power
to weight must be very, very big
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:42 AM
andy.gates.9887
They’ve done more than simulations, they’ve got one working in a
https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/03/15/nasa-to-decide-soon-whether-flying-drone-will-launch-with-mars-2020-rover/
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 9:13 AM
majikthise
what a total waste of time and money. please defund this stupid
$55million mars toy drone immediately. oh great you can fly it 10ft high
for 90 seconds and get some amazing pics. pics of rocks! god what a
waste. this is what is wrong with nasa and their lazy over-paid
"scientists". they should think for a damn minute before wasting money
on crap like this. there is absolutely zero reason for this to exist.
mars is a terrible place to have rotor based flight machines. and just
to get up 10ft??? mars is a desert wasteland anyway. no life, never was
any. just stop wasting everyone’s time and money already.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 4:55 AM
graha.me
ok
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 7:05 AM
samwichse
Meanwhile, real Americans support exploration and experimentation for
their own sakes.
I don’t know what you are… some kind of bog-dwelling slime turtle,
perhaps? Happy to live it’s life in the muck and never leave the safety
of it’s home puddle?
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 7:24 AM
eschwiz
So what would you have a space program do/spend money on?
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 10:05 AM
Osman Gokhan Bas
Now that I know you exist… World got a little worst.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 11:18 AM
filmantopia
We could be putting that relatively paltry amount of money toward the
already gigantic budget for more foreign wars so that military
industrial complex oligarchs can reap massive profits off of human
suffering and death.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 3:11 PM
Cyberax
Agreed. We need to give back more money shamelessly stolen from the
people of the United States. Such courageous and brave people as
Comcast, Disney and Exxon.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 6:06 PM
mintas lanxor
Word on the street is that Amazon is readying a fleet of drones for Mars
delivery.
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 5:20 PM
Oxenbridge
Hi
The Mars Helicopter is happening, y’all
When will we be nuking the place soon too?
Posted on May 12, 2018 | 5:55 PM
Plazmic Flame
LOLLLL
Robert Carnegie
2018-05-13 22:18:54 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by J. Clarke
I would like to see a cost comparison of a balloon vs a helicopter per
pound of payload that each carries for payloads under 10 pounds,
noting that the cost includes shipment of all components to Mars.
This isn't "a" helicopter; if it works, it'll be
the first of many helicopters on Mars, and better
than a balloon because you can choose a place to go
to, and do it.

Look at what happened with "little trucks that drive
around" on Mars. Sojourner just puttered around its
landing site. But then:
<http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1504:_Opportunity>

So just send more trucks? Well - big craters are tricky
for the trucks. I suppose that a walking robot with long
legs would...... give Martians ideas we don't want to?
<Loading Image...>
J. Clarke
2018-05-13 22:44:10 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:18:54 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
I would like to see a cost comparison of a balloon vs a helicopter per
pound of payload that each carries for payloads under 10 pounds,
noting that the cost includes shipment of all components to Mars.
This isn't "a" helicopter; if it works, it'll be
the first of many helicopters on Mars, and better
than a balloon because you can choose a place to go
to, and do it.
Which has what to do with the relative operating costs of a helicopter
vs a balloon? It doens't matter if it's one, ten, or a billion, there
is still a different in cost. I am curious as to what that difference
is.
Post by Robert Carnegie
Look at what happened with "little trucks that drive
around" on Mars. Sojourner just puttered around its
<http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1504:_Opportunity>
Which has, so far, traveled about as far as my daily commute.

And the helicopter is supposed to fly about 300 feet.
Post by Robert Carnegie
So just send more trucks? Well - big craters are tricky
for the trucks. I suppose that a walking robot with long
legs would...... give Martians ideas we don't want to?
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds#/media/File:Woking_tripod.JPG>
Kevrob
2018-05-14 00:24:46 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:18:54 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
I would like to see a cost comparison of a balloon vs a helicopter per
pound of payload that each carries for payloads under 10 pounds,
noting that the cost includes shipment of all components to Mars.
This isn't "a" helicopter; if it works, it'll be
the first of many helicopters on Mars, and better
than a balloon because you can choose a place to go
to, and do it.
Which has what to do with the relative operating costs of a helicopter
vs a balloon? It doens't matter if it's one, ten, or a billion, there
is still a different in cost. I am curious as to what that difference
is.
Post by Robert Carnegie
Look at what happened with "little trucks that drive
around" on Mars. Sojourner just puttered around its
<http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1504:_Opportunity>
Which has, so far, traveled about as far as my daily commute.
And the helicopter is supposed to fly about 300 feet.
Post by Robert Carnegie
So just send more trucks? Well - big craters are tricky
for the trucks. I suppose that a walking robot with long
legs would...... give Martians ideas we don't want to?
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds#/media/File:Woking_tripod.JPG>
If and when there's a need for something larger,
would a hybrid aerostat/`copter make sense in
a Martian environment? Something like...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JHL-40

No idea if the budget allows equipping it with 8th ray tech.

Kevin R
Robert Carnegie
2018-05-14 08:37:42 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:18:54 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
I would like to see a cost comparison of a balloon vs a helicopter per
pound of payload that each carries for payloads under 10 pounds,
noting that the cost includes shipment of all components to Mars.
This isn't "a" helicopter; if it works, it'll be
the first of many helicopters on Mars, and better
than a balloon because you can choose a place to go
to, and do it.
Which has what to do with the relative operating costs of a helicopter
vs a balloon? It doens't matter if it's one, ten, or a billion, there
is still a different in cost. I am curious as to what that difference
is.
Obviously it would be much cheaper to send it to the Moon,
but that isn't the point.

Balloons are large and presumably heavy, even on Earth,
for carrying anything worthwhile.
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Robert Carnegie
Look at what happened with "little trucks that drive
around" on Mars. Sojourner just puttered around its
<http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1504:_Opportunity>
Which has, so far, traveled about as far as my daily commute.
And the helicopter is supposed to fly about 300 feet.
Post by Robert Carnegie
So just send more trucks? Well - big craters are tricky
for the trucks. I suppose that a walking robot with long
legs would...... give Martians ideas we don't want to?
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds#/media/File:Woking_tripod.JPG>
a425couple
2018-05-14 03:38:40 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 12:39:32 -0700, a425couple
Post by a425couple
Post by a425couple
Post by a425couple
from
https://www.space.com/40570-nasa-sending-helicopter-to-mars.html
Here's What It Will Do
By Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor | May 12, 2018 12:00am ET
Similar story, IMHO better video
https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/11/17346414/nasa-mars-2020-helicopter-atmosphere
NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars to get a bird’s-eye view of the planet
The Mars Helicopter is happening, y’all
SHARE
Image: NASA
When NASA launches its next rover to Mars, the vehicle will have a small
helicopter along for the ride. NASA announced today that it will be
sending a small autonomous flying chopper — aptly named the Mars
Helicopter — with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. The helicopter will
attempt to fly through the Martian air to see if vehicles can even
levitate on Mars, where the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than that of
Earth.
some interesting comments
THERE ARE 31 COMMENTS.
darthsidious
Anyone know the name of the new rover? After the excitement of the last
one, I will be watching the entire stream live for sure!
Posted on May 11, 2018 | 6:24 PM
Ross Nicholson
Balloons would be far cheaper, far more practical, than a helicopter.
It’s not like there are places we need to go to specifically on Mars
when we know almost nothing about the whole planet. There are no
powerlines to prevent free navigation. Balloons won’t need energy to
move around, either, and they therefore won’t be radioactive when the
Astronauts arrive.
Incidentally, I worked on Star Wars with Stevie Spielberg as a kid.
Darth Vader was taken by "Dark Invader".
I would like to see a cost comparison of a balloon vs a helicopter per
pound of payload that each carries for payloads under 10 pounds,
noting that the cost includes shipment of all components to Mars.
Yes, a cost comparison available to us would be interesting.
And a description of the main variables / unknowns.
If I recall correctly, in Kim Stanley's "Red Mars" they
in quite a major way use a dirigible / airship type vehicle.

One thing that surprised me in both these stories about
helicopters (also applies to balloons & airships)
that they did not mention,,
is that I recall reading one that atmospheric pressure
on Mars real seriously varies by location.
Some major sized areas are depressions, and in the deep
canyons there is much more atmospheric pressure.
J. Clarke
2018-05-14 03:52:07 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
On Sun, 13 May 2018 20:38:40 -0700, a425couple
Post by a425couple
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 12:39:32 -0700, a425couple
Post by a425couple
Post by a425couple
Post by a425couple
from
https://www.space.com/40570-nasa-sending-helicopter-to-mars.html
Here's What It Will Do
By Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor | May 12, 2018 12:00am ET
Similar story, IMHO better video
https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/11/17346414/nasa-mars-2020-helicopter-atmosphere
NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars to get a bird’s-eye view of the planet
The Mars Helicopter is happening, y’all
SHARE
Image: NASA
When NASA launches its next rover to Mars, the vehicle will have a small
helicopter along for the ride. NASA announced today that it will be
sending a small autonomous flying chopper — aptly named the Mars
Helicopter — with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. The helicopter will
attempt to fly through the Martian air to see if vehicles can even
levitate on Mars, where the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than that of
Earth.
some interesting comments
THERE ARE 31 COMMENTS.
darthsidious
Anyone know the name of the new rover? After the excitement of the last
one, I will be watching the entire stream live for sure!
Posted on May 11, 2018 | 6:24 PM
Ross Nicholson
Balloons would be far cheaper, far more practical, than a helicopter.
It’s not like there are places we need to go to specifically on Mars
when we know almost nothing about the whole planet. There are no
powerlines to prevent free navigation. Balloons won’t need energy to
move around, either, and they therefore won’t be radioactive when the
Astronauts arrive.
Incidentally, I worked on Star Wars with Stevie Spielberg as a kid.
Darth Vader was taken by "Dark Invader".
I would like to see a cost comparison of a balloon vs a helicopter per
pound of payload that each carries for payloads under 10 pounds,
noting that the cost includes shipment of all components to Mars.
Yes, a cost comparison available to us would be interesting.
And a description of the main variables / unknowns.
If I recall correctly, in Kim Stanley's "Red Mars" they
in quite a major way use a dirigible / airship type vehicle.
One thing that surprised me in both these stories about
helicopters (also applies to balloons & airships)
that they did not mention,,
is that I recall reading one that atmospheric pressure
on Mars real seriously varies by location.
Some major sized areas are depressions, and in the deep
canyons there is much more atmospheric pressure.
For certain values. "Much more" on Mars is still "near vacuum" on
Earth.
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