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Chopper set for Mars has first flight.

A HELICOPTER that is set to fly on Mars in 2021 has completed its first test flight, American space agency Nasa has revealed.

Exploration on other planets has long been restricted to rovers on the ground, but engineers are making progress in their ambitious plans to launch a drone-like device into the skies above the Red Planet for the first time, which they hope will reveal a new perspective on the Martian surface.

Remotely controlling a helicopter from hundreds of millions of miles away, on top of Mars's thin atmosphere and freezing temperatures, make flying such a device a difficult technical feat.

The space agency has been putting the 4lb (1.8kg) helicopter through its paces in a vacuum chamber at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which swaps nitrogen, oxygen and other gases for carbon dioxide to mimic the atmosphere of the Red Planet, as well as a gravity offload system.

Nasa is aiming to launch the helicopter with the Mars 2020 rover in July 2020.

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 2, 2019
Words:174
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