If ever there was proof needed that solar technology leads to amazing inventiveness, we think the first time solar-powered flight being tested on another planet might be it.
As NASA’s Mars 2020 mission launch nears, a giant solar milestone was completed on 6 April when a solar powered drone helicopter was attached to the nuclear-powered Perseverance rover. The Perseverance is scheduled to start its long journey to Mars in July.
This solar drone can receive an electrical charge from the Perseverance rover through 34 electrical connections that engineers have established. Once the drone lands on Mars and is free from the rover’s belly, it can generate its own electricity through a solar panel located above its propellers. On-board it has a lithium-ion battery pack made up of six Sony batteries collectively weighing 273 grams.
The drone can fly up to 90 seconds duration per day and has a maximum range of 300 metres. It can remain connected to the rover via radio with a signal range of 1000 metres.
Human exploration of the red planet is all part of better understanding our solar system. In 2012, SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk said that he imagined a Mars colony of tens of thousands of people, with the first colonists arriving after the middle of the 2020s.
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