It will leave for the Red Planet as part of the Mars 2020 rover mission.
The news: NASA’s Mars helicopter has successfully completed a series of tests here on Earth. Although it flew only about two inches off the ground (as planned), the researchers have confirmed the helicopter is now ready to head to Mars. You can watch the full test video here.
What’s next: As project manager MiMi Aung said in a press release, “The next time we fly, we fly on Mars.” The copter is scheduled to touch down on Mars in early 2021. Soon after, the first test flights on the planet itself will begin. Although each one will last a mere 90 seconds, it will serve as a proof of concept for how scientific missions can extend their range in the air.
The challenge: Flying a helicopter on Mars is significantly more challenging than flying one on Earth. The air on Earth is about 100 times more dense than that of our planetary neighbor, which has only about one third our gravity. (A recent test of a lava tube mapping drone also had to take this into account.) That means NASA had to use a testing facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that could simulate this environment.
Want to keep up with space tech news? Sign up for our new space newsletter, The Airlock.
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it
The narrative around cheating students doesn’t tell the whole story. Meet the teachers who think generative AI could actually make learning better.
Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives
The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.
Learning to code isn’t enough
Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.