CHINA: China has developed a prototype miniature helicopter that has a similar appearance to NASA’s robotic helicopter Ingenuity. The Chinese helicopter will be used for surveillance work on future Mars missions. Following the historic landing of a robotic rover on the Red Planet, China is now aiming to compete with its US counterpart. China’s National Space Science Center posted the picture of the helicopter on its website on Wednesday.
“The helicopter could be a tool for China’s follow-up exploration on Mars,” the agency said. However, they didn’t give any more details.
China landed its first Mars rover in May and by doing this it became the second country after the United States to do so. NASA’s most advanced rover, Perseverance, landed on the planet in February.
From the NASA rover, Ingenuity made its inaugural flight in April, rising about 3 meters (10 feet) above the surface. The challenge for the 1.8 kg (4 pounds) 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 equipped Ingenuity with rotor blades that are larger and spin more rapidly than would be needed on Earth for an aircraft of its size.
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The Chinese helicopter sports two rotor blades, a sensor-and-camera base, and four thin legs. But there is no solar panel at the top like Ingenuity.
Ingenuity has made more than 10 outings since April, covering an overall distance of more than 2 km (1.2 miles) with a flight time of about 20 minutes in all.
China is planning its first crewed mission to Mars in 2033.