First Flight on Another Planet!

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  • Published: 10 August 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.

Comments • 4 271

  • Gaimz
    Gaimz  16 minutes back

    lol 90 seconds in flight.

    • Jānis Grīnvalds
      Jānis Grīnvalds  1 hours back

      Maybe I would add some charged spring mechanism to launch it for easier takeoff.
      As another concept I would consider pneumatical rocket as "bouncer"... but retractable helicopter blades as autogiro landing(as maple seeds).

      • prabanjan raja
        prabanjan raja  1 hours back

        i have exam today at 9:45 am yet i am here watching this at 1:10 Am because its so interesting than what i study man i wish studying can be interesting ;)

        • Paul J
          Paul J  1 hours back

          This little toy will never actually see flight in mars, but enjoy the trickery. Oh and before you say, so these engineers are in on it, no they are not and that is the beauty of the deception.
          Now on to the more interesting part, your ineffective insults or Ad hominem's towards me.

          • Sridhar Bheeman
            Sridhar Bheeman  2 hours back

            How is it going to land and change direction ?

            • Adenzel
              Adenzel  2 hours back

              They made their own wind tunnel using computer fans... both wonderful and scary how they hack things together like this with of the shelf parts, determination and a generous sprinkling of genius

              • confuseatronica
                confuseatronica  2 hours back

                first powered flight on another planet is the MSL Skycrane on Mars. It hovered in place, dropped the rover, then flew up and to the side in a controlled way before it crashed. That has to count.

                need another term to cover what you mean- maybe "aerodynamic flight" or "wingborne flight"

                • petegalvs
                  petegalvs  3 hours back

                  Is it possible to get a low altitude orbit satellite on Mars?

                  • Eng. EAR JR
                    Eng. EAR JR  3 hours back

                    Pior e um cara desse acreditar que fomos a outro planeta.

                    • David Davids
                      David Davids  6 hours back

                      some info. in case you cannot see it for YOURSELF, this is another sillyass idea, foisted on us, by Big Science. (it ranks up there with the, 'water on mars' LIE.) why is this true. the atmospheric density on mars is estimated to be .06% of earth's. in other words, .0006 times 101,325 pascals; = 608 pascals. there is almost NOTHING for rotors to push around, in order to make THRUST. a rotor speed of 2500 rpm will NOT do ANYTHING; 200,000 rpm MIGHT work. the weaker martian gravity does NOT make the atmosphere any more dense. maybe someone should tell the fools, at JPL. googletranslate water on mars lmao
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UcQuHYmTrE

                      • John 2018
                        John 2018  7 hours back

                        All they need to do now is to research how to put food in the bellies of millions of starving people out there, and how to spread around, more equitably and productively, some of the squillions hoarded by the gangster élites that control this planet.

                        • Justin Hollohead
                          Justin Hollohead  7 hours back

                          You went to JPL or fantasy land, this is what happens in the fanatical world of the globe society. CGI, doctored photos and no tangible proof they even left low earth orbit, what a fantasy,

                          • Robert Carrillo
                            Robert Carrillo  7 hours back

                            such a good video. well done.

                            • Mohammad Al Adham
                              Mohammad Al Adham  8 hours back

                              They don't want the propellers to break the speed of sound, but isn't that harder on Mars since the speed of sound would be slower than that on Earth because of the lower pressure?

                              • Mikhail Martinez
                                Mikhail Martinez  9 hours back

                                I understood seventy percent of this but loved a hundred percent of it

                                • mak c
                                  mak c  9 hours back

                                  Plz get off all your blue shirts
                                  We are sick of seeing them

                                  • PHYSICS PALACE
                                    PHYSICS PALACE  9 hours back

                                    https://youtu.be/9l25VAJmFiA

                                    • thisismycoolnickname
                                      thisismycoolnickname  10 hours back

                                      Somebody's playing around with the flashdrive at 0:41 lol

                                      • Dark GT
                                        Dark GT  10 hours back

                                        There are some things I don't like in the model. First, why spending so much power on heating? They could use the radioactive decay of some elements for heating, also the battery can be charged with some atomic battery. They didn't resolve one recurring problem that is shared with the rovers too, the cleaning of the sun panels. When it get dusty, is no longer efficient as before. I bet there is a way to clean the panels. Anyway , that's is one step in the right direction for future exploration.

                                        • hasnain mustak
                                          hasnain mustak  11 hours back

                                          Elon Musk: I need to organize a drone race there.

                                          • Andrè
                                            Andrè  11 hours back

                                            Yeah right. We dont have proof nor actual video of leaving earth behind. Full video. Missing :)) its to be or not now!! People think that small clip or shuttle going to the sky high up is space. Its not. THEY CANT get higher :))

                                            • Yiyi Yan
                                              Yiyi Yan  11 hours back

                                              This is such an inspiring video to future aircraft designer, that my blood starts to boil thinking about solving these challenges and seeing this vehicle flying on Mars! Thank you very much Veritasium, please keep motivating and enlightening future generations to explore the unknowns!

                                              • The canary Is dead
                                                The canary Is dead  12 hours back

                                                Craters that would be inaccessible to the rover, or that deep hole near the south pole, would be great places to fly. One of those deep trenches May yet have traces of water, frozen just beneath the surface. Where there is water, there is life.

                                                • Сварожічъ Х'Арійскі

                                                  NASA has the budget of 27 mil a day! And this is what they came up with? Lol

                                                  • thenerdnetwork
                                                    thenerdnetwork  19 hours back

                                                    Hmm... sure seems like the $10 BILLION they spent on this project is worth it... meanwhile you can buy a drone at wal mart for under $100. I will tell ya what, if NASA cuts me a check for $5 billion I will tell them right now what they will find on that planet, spoiler... its red, rocky, dusty... and no life on it whatsoever... make the check payable to cash...ty.

                                                    • Deepyn dixies
                                                      Deepyn dixies  19 hours back

                                                      This mission is going to be a mess

                                                      • Oracle Davis
                                                        Oracle Davis  20 hours back

                                                        Attached two small Zeppelin shape balloon to provide lift for the device.
                                                        Go figure it out.

                                                        • Cryptic Thunder
                                                          Cryptic Thunder  21 hours back

                                                          Wasting my tax money on this stupid thing when it could be going to real projects like going back to the moon.

                                                          • binaryalgorithm
                                                            binaryalgorithm  23 hours back

                                                            I'm thinking short flights/hops, recharge solar, repeat.

                                                            • DeinLieblingsTimmey
                                                              DeinLieblingsTimmey  1 days back

                                                              U can visit mars with google earth (erath, moon, mars) - I found a place which was hand blurred with typical tools like photoshop or fireworks. It looks so strange, because it as not a quadrat, you have seen the brush tool circle here and there. I got interested in this space and zommed the max in. Near the hand blured line you can clearly see buildings. 90° angles, like "our" human buildings, near by near, some in the same size some a bit more complex.Since I found this place - I "know" we are already on mars and we have also build already buildings which are important enought to blur them by hand. I think its Tesla - or military - or both. But I guess its tesla. This is why I say to myself in that moment I have some dollars to spend for, I will buy as many tesla stocks as I can because I already know they only "try" to reach mars for public in 2020 and it will, oh wonder, be a success, and in 5 years it will go official and the stocks will raise hard.

                                                              • Juan Carlos Santilli
                                                                Juan Carlos Santilli  1 days back

                                                                Are you sure coaxial rotors are more efficient??

                                                                • Coven of the Arks
                                                                  Coven of the Arks  1 days back

                                                                  ---a story by a child who lost his desire to become a scientist - I WAS ONLY 10 IN THE 80'S, MY PARENTS BOUGHT ME A ROBOT, THAT JUST HAD A NUMBER PAD. THE ROBOT WOULD GO WHATEVER FEET I SPECIFIED, TURN A SPECIFIED DEGREE AND SEARCH AREAS BASED ON MY INSTRUCTIONS. IT WAS SO COOL TO WATCH. BUT AS A TEN YEAR OLD, THEY HAD NO CAMERAS OR AVOIDANCE SENSORS and, of course, no GPS.. I WAS IMPRESSED WITH IT. BUT ONE DAY WE WENT ON VACATION FOR ONE OR 2 WEEKS. WHILE WE WERE GONE , SOMEHOW, THE PILOT LIGHT IN OUR OIL HEATER FLAMED OUT. THE HOUSE , THE OIL, AND THE WATER IN THE PIPES FROZE. THE WATER EXPANDED, CRACKING THE PIPES, THUS, FLOODING THE HOUSE. THE UNFROZEN WATER FLOWED EVERYWHERE, TURNING THE HOUSE INTO A DISNEY MOVIE, "ICE QUEEN" OR "FROZEN" . MY LITTLE ROBOT WAS IN THE BASEMENT ON THE POOL TABLE, THE WATER PIPES EXPLODED ONTO IT AND FROZE EVERTHING IN ICE. EVERYTHING CRACKED , RIPPED APART, OR SHATTERED. IT WAS ONE OF THE WORST DAYS OF MY FAMILIE'S LIFE. I TRIED TO FIND ANOTHER ROBOT LIKE THAT ONE, BUT THEY DISCONTINUED MAKING THEM. SADDEST DAY OF MY LIFE. IT WAS LIKE HAVING MY OWN NASA ROBOT, ONLY I KNEW THE CODES TO ENTER INSTRUCTIONS. I CRIED FOR MONTHS (REMEMBER I WAS ONLY 9 OR 10).

                                                                  • shivam suri
                                                                    shivam suri  1 days back

                                                                    Hey there ! My dear friend. Awesome coverage on this mars helicopter. One thing I would like to know though, is 1.) what material has been used in the manufacture of propeller blades? 2.) Considered it would be flying at Mach 0.7, how would the aerodynamic parameters be concerned, with reference to the square shaped fuselage?

                                                                    • Coven of the Arks
                                                                      Coven of the Arks  1 days back

                                                                      GRAVITY OFFLOAD !? Because the atmosphere is much thinner on mars, this helicopter, tethered to a helium blimp or a gas blimp lighter than the air on mars would succeed in creating a longer flight time. ?. On earth many helicopter drone enthusiasts do not tether their heli drones to helium blimps, because they say it will cause too much drag. BUT ON MARS, WITH THE ATMOSPHERE THINNER, The drag wouldn't be as much of an issue and the Mars Heli drone could stay airborne much longer. I may be wrong. If NASA could explain why they can't float the heli drone for a minute or two, then release it; , it would be greatly appreciated. Heli , hell, shell, spinning, planet, hurricane, watch the poles of the helli. Trademark-- Need to heal, seel, shelly, helli, spinny, whiny. Space hurricane anyone?

                                                                      • Coven of the Arks
                                                                        Coven of the Arks  1 days back

                                                                        VE (veritas) .In Roman mythology, Veritas, meaning truth, is the goddess of truth, a daughter of Chronos, the Titan of Time. THEY CALL THEMSELVES VERITASIUM LIKE A CHEMICAL. FUNNY.

                                                                        • Quantum Brotherhood
                                                                          Quantum Brotherhood  1 days back

                                                                          Awesome

                                                                          • Oathblivion
                                                                            Oathblivion  1 days back

                                                                            It's super cool that they didn't use aerogel if it wasn't necessary because of weight. Those guys meant every word when they said every part was considered for weight. I can't wait to see what this thing can accomplish when it gets to Mars.

                                                                            edit: And it's just a tech demo? Maybe, but I think that's underestimating the potential of what 90s of flight with a color camera can uncover. :O

                                                                            • Jake10454
                                                                              Jake10454  1 days back

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

                                                                              • Robust Misconception
                                                                                Robust Misconception  1 days back

                                                                                I wonder if that 20 minutes latency problem can be fixed via a simulation with a memory buffer. We have pretty good cameras, I assume it is possible for an elite team of programmers to create a sort of 90 second simulation to be used for each hop. The pilot would have the option to discard the sequence of commands or send it to the drone to execute. I mean we know all these variables as air pressure and gravity in mars, I guess they should be able to work something out if they really want to be able to fly it manually on occasion.

                                                                                • SuperFluctalFlight
                                                                                  SuperFluctalFlight  1 days back

                                                                                  This topic would be perfect for a SmarterEveryDay collab... Destin did a whole series on the mechanics of helicopter flight.

                                                                                  • Rudy2k5
                                                                                    Rudy2k5  1 days back

                                                                                    I would love to be on a Veritasium Airline ^_^

                                                                                    • John Leicester
                                                                                      John Leicester  1 days back

                                                                                      You should send a Dirigible too

                                                                                      • Kiki Tay
                                                                                        Kiki Tay  1 days back

                                                                                        in your face! Thunderf00t!

                                                                                        • CyberNonymous G
                                                                                          CyberNonymous G  1 days back

                                                                                          *the last day of final*

                                                                                          • Марко Пејић
                                                                                            Марко Пејић  1 days back

                                                                                            I have one question, can He ballon fly on Mars?

                                                                                            • Qishi Li
                                                                                              Qishi Li  1 days back

                                                                                              2:59 I don't get it. What's so funny?

                                                                                              • ben3847
                                                                                                ben3847  1 days back

                                                                                                the martians gonna be spooked af

                                                                                                • Alex Whitton
                                                                                                  Alex Whitton  1 days back

                                                                                                  5:43 imagine if you were an alien on Mars and you just hear that coming over the hill.