First Flight on Another Planet!

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Genre: Education

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Shared August 10, 2019

The Mars Helicopter aims to make the first powered flight on another planet when it takes off on Mars as part of the Mars 2020 mission. I learned a lot getting to visit the drone right before it was mounted on the rover.

How do you fly in 1% of Earth's atmosphere:
Have large rotors (they are 1.2m in diameter) and spin them very fast, around 2500 RPM (5x the speed of a helicopter on Earth).

Plus the aircraft has to be light:
The Mars helicopter weighs in at 1.8kg or around the same as a laptop. Every piece had to be stripped down for weight. Instead of using aerogel for insulation, the craft makes use of CO2 gaps between components. Even aerogel was too heavy!

One of the major challenges is surviving the Martian night:
Temperatures plunge to -80C to -100C so two thirds of the craft's power is actually used to keep its electronics warm. Only one third is used for flying. The estimated flight time is 90 seconds.

The craft can't be driven remotely, it will have to fly autonomously, using its own sensor suite to determine how to fly. The round trip 20 minute delay with Earth means steering the craft from mission control would be impossible.

Huge Thanks to Patreon Supporters:
Philipp Volgger, Chris Vargas, Ron Neal, Alfred Wallace, Colin Bellmore, Michael Krugman, James Knight, Donal Botkin, Sam Lutfi, Mohammed Al Sahaf, Kevin Beavers, Chuck Lauer Vose, Bryan Baker, James Wong, kkm, Manuel Zürcher, Tige Thorman, Jasper Xin, Leah Howard, Daniel Milum, Mathias Göransson, Stan Presolski, Lyvann Ferrusca, Arjun Chakroborty, June Kang, Listen Money Matters, Pindex, Joar Wandborg, DALE HORNE, Parker Linn, Roberto Rezende

Jonny Hyman was a legend in editing, animation, filming, and sound design for this video.

Plus 1 Intelligence

They let this guy go everywhere. He should ask to go to Area 51. He will be our inside man.

6 months ago | [YT] | 5,150


It'll get stuck in the only tree on Mars.

6 months ago | [YT] | 376


Him: so no aerogel
Her: no. No aerogel
Sad veritasium noises

5 months ago | [YT] | 72

First Name Last Name

Missed the opportunity to call it the Mars Hover

6 months ago | [YT] | 457

Tristan B.

The Wright's first flight was 12 seconds. We're starting on another planet at 90 seconds.

Where will we be in 20 years?

6 months ago | [YT] | 539


How to tell if a video will be interesting: "I'm at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory..."

6 months ago | [YT] | 1,572

teddy d

them: we needed to lower the gravity
me: here we go, antigravity time!
them: fishing line

6 months ago | [YT] | 462


The most important question: How long until we can fly it over Opportunity to blow the dust off her solar panels and revive her?

6 months ago | [YT] | 184

Sammy Spaniel

It's mind boggling to think about everything that must go right for this mission to be a success.

6 months ago | [YT] | 124


This thing: starts flying
Alien farmers: why is fortunate son playing?

4 months ago | [YT] | 37

Purple Circle

“Hi do you guys sell rigid fishing line”

“Yea what’s it for”

“Oh uhhhh? M A R S C O P T E R”

6 months ago | [YT] | 1,364


2:59 "This is how humans laugh, right?"

6 months ago | [YT] | 17

AwsomeLikeYou Bro

3:00 my fake friend laugh be like😂✌️

6 months ago | [YT] | 100

Julian Staniewski

Now tell da Vinci that his design is used on another planet🤯

6 months ago | [YT] | 53


5:43 Sounds like a lawnmower to me. A very expensive mars lawn mower to annoy mars neighbours.

6 months ago (edited) | [YT] | 82

Matteo Guzman

this comment is just for engagement so veritasium gets a boost in the youtube algorithm

6 months ago | [YT] | 484

John Doo

My boss reaction, when I say, I need a bigger salary... 2:59

3 months ago | [YT] | 9


Aerigon: Let's make the most expensive drone at $250 000


Nasa: Hold my space balls..
$23 million for 90 sec flight time.

... I know technically its not a drone but with all the sensors and whatnot it may as well be.

6 months ago | [YT] | 30

Alper Tokcan

Could this be used for clearing the dead rover's solar panels

6 months ago | [YT] | 40

Adam Homoki

When you have to compare to the metric system with coins, laptops and who knows what else....

5 months ago | [YT] | 16