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David Szondy. David Szondy is a freelance journalist, playwright, and general scribbler based in Seattle, Washington.

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A retired field archaeologist and university lecturer, he has a background in the history of science, technology, and medicine with a particular emphasis on aerospace, military, and cybernetic subjects. In addition, he is the author of a number of websites, four award-winning plays, a novel that has thankfully vanished from history, reviews, scholarly works ranging from industrial archaeology to law, and has worked as a feature writer for several international magazines.

He has been a New Atlas contributor since Sign in to post a comment. After the rover arrives at Mars on Feb.

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But if we prove powered flight on Mars can work, we look forward to the day when Mars helicopters can play an important role in future explorations of the Red Planet. The helicopter will fly autonomously, without real-time input from ground controllers millions of miles away.

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The drone carries two cameras, and telemetry from the helicopter will be routed through a base station on the rover. The altitude record for a helicopter on Earth is around 40, feet.


A Flying Rover: JPL's Mars Airplane (1978)

NASA says future Mars helicopters could carry scientific instruments and act as scouts for rovers, and eventually humans, exploring the Red Planet. Drones could survey cliffs, caves and deep craters, places where it might be too risky to send a crew or an expensive rover, NASA said in a statement. Aerial imagery could also help locate obstacles for rovers as they drive across the Martian surface.

Unlike the Mars Helicopter, Dragonfly is a full-fledged research mission with its own suite of scientific instruments. It'll use solar cells to charge its batteries, and operate a built-in heater to combat frigid nighttime temperatures. The chopper will be autonomous: The nearest humans will be millions of miles away, so any kind of manual control isn't yet an option.

NASA first announced its plan to attach a chopper to its Mars Rover last year , but it's been developing the technology since Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. We delete comments that violate our policy , which we encourage you to read.