Published: Fri, August 30, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Engineers attach NASA Mars Helicopter to Mars 2020 Rover

Engineers attach NASA Mars Helicopter to Mars 2020 Rover

NASA's solar-powered, twin-rotor helicopter was connected, along with the Mars Helicopter Delivery System, to a plate on the Mars 2020 rover that features a cover to protect the helicopter from space debris during entry, descent, and landing. The 2020 Mars Rover should arrive on the planet in February 2021 and, if all goes to plan, the helicopter will then become the first aircraft to fly on a planet other than Earth.

The premise of this contest is to encourage students into joining the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Mars Helicopter and the Mars 2020 Rover will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in July of 2020. Students at nationwide public, private and home schools can enter an essay contest to explain why their proposed name should be picked.

"The helicopter would fly ahead of the rover nearly every day, checking out various possible points of interest and helping engineers back on Earth plan the best driving route", NASA announced earlier this year. The essays will be judged by grade level - K-4, 5-8 and 9-12 - on the appropriateness, significance and originality of the proposed name; the originality and quality of the essay; and/or the finalist interview presentation.

NASA will also look at the overall presentation and quality of the essay to pick a victor.

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"It is an exciting way to engage with a rover that will likely serve as the first leg of a Mars sample-return campaign, collecting and caching core samples from the Martian surface for scientists here on Earth to study for the first time", Bridenstine added.

Fifty-two semifinalists will be selected per grade group; three finalists per grade group will advance to the final round; and the public may vote online on the nine finalists in January 2020. It it fails to take to the air, the scientific goals of the Mars 2020 mission will not be inhibited.

In a procedure at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on Wednesday, engineers attached the NASA Mars Helicopter to the belly of the Mars 2020 Rover.

You can learn more about the NASA competition and prizes by clicking here. "Joined now to the 2020 rover, it is yet another example of how NASA's Artemis generation is expanding humanity's reach in our solar system".

JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover and the Mars Helicopter for NASA.

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