The United States has always taken a leading part in space research and has set the trend for exploring outer space. NASA is the American agency which had sent the first man to the moon. It had also created the International Space Station with the help of Russia and other nations. This station is a space lab dedicated to the cause of space research and pursues subjects relevant to living in space.

Sky News reports that NASA is set for another first in its Mars mission. Five years back, it had sent its Curiosity rover to the planet for ground exploration.

Recently, it sent its InSight robot to go deep into the belly of Mars to gather data pertaining to its unseen treasures. The next plan is to send an unmanned helicopter.

Robots will set the pace

Colonization of the red planet is on the agenda of not only NASA but all other space agencies like ESA, Roscosmos, Mars-One, and SpaceX. In order to develop workable plans to set up human settlements on the distant planet, the planners must have volumes of data at their disposal. The objective of various Mars missions of the American agency is to generate such data, and in order to do this, it is relying on robots.

It already has a robot, Curiosity, which has been working 24X7 for the past five years on the surface.

The second one is InSight – it is on its way to Mars and once it lands there, it will begin to go deep below ground level to collect more information about the planet. The third step is the helicopter. It will piggyback on the Mars rover to be sent in 2020. Once there, the helicopter will be released to study the planet from the skies.

About the helicopter

Sending an aircraft to study another planet will be yet one more first for NASA. The helicopter will be unmanned, like a drone, and will be operated by ground control. It will help scientists to understand the planet better. The weight of this helicopter will be less than 2kg and its blades will rotate at almost 3,000rpm – this will be several times more than the rate of rotors on Earth.

The helicopter will carry out geological studies as a part of Mars mission in order to gather more details about the environment.

The main advantage of deploying a helicopter on the alien planet is to conduct aerial surveys of places that could be beyond the reach of human-built rovers. The ability to capture a bird’s eye view of the planet's surface will be crucial for future explorers because such data will help to decide whether the location will be conducive to colonization.