With just 14 days to go in the summer launch, teams working on the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover have completed important milestones in its construction. After receiving a set of flight wheels and parachute installation a few weeks back, the Mars Helicopter has now been installed as well.
Set to be the first aircraft in history to attempt a power-controlled flight on another planet, the Mars Helicopter will be deployed about two-and-a-half months after the rover lands on the Martian surface. Weighing around four pounds (1.8 kg) with propellers four feet (1.2 m) in diameter, the helicopter rests in the rover's belly.
After its installation, the engineers ensured that the helicopter could receive an electrical charge from the Perseverance since it will rely on the rover's power before being deployed on the Jezero Crater. Once the helicopter passes a series of extensive systems checks, it will execute a flight-test campaign for up to 30 days where it will be powered by the electrical power generated independently through its solar panel located above the twin counter-rotating propellers.
Further, 884 pounds (401 kg) of hydrazine monopropellant were loaded into the descent stage's four fuel tanks. These fuel tanks will feed eight Mars landing engines to help the rover descend safely on the Martian surface. "Fueling the descent stage is a big step. While we will continue to test and evaluate its performance as we move forward with launch preparations, it is now ready to fulfill its mission of placing Perseverance on the surface on Mars," said David Gruel, who is the assembly, test, and launch Operations Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA.