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UArizona planning more powerful drones for Mars

NASA just proved powered flight possible on Mars
Posted at 7:28 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 22:28:50-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Now that NASA has proven a helicopter can fly on Mars, University of Arizona researchers are looking forward to creating helicopters that can do some even more challenging science there.

NASA released video Monday shot from the Preserverance rover shot as the Ingenuity helicopter took off. The flight was simply to prove powered flight is possible in the thin Martian atmosphere.

University of Arizona researchers are flying drones in Iceland, where volcanoes are creating new terrain similar to what a history of volcanoes created on Mars. It’s part of an effort to design drones able to carry powerful science instruments on future Mars missions.

Chris Hamilton of UArizona’s Lunar and Planetary Science Laboratory says, “We're using a lot of the same systems, a lot of the same cameras and a lot of the same workflow that you would use on Mars with drones to be able to acquire geological insight into the surrounding environment. So every flight and every day we get a little bit more experience and that type of experience can help us to be able to develop more efficient missions to Mars in the future as well.”

Hamilton says U of A’s work in Iceland will help researchers learn how to have drones and rovers work together to scout and examine the most interesting features on Mars.