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China’s Mars Cruise Drone Looks Just Like NASA’s

by : Julia Banim on : 02 Sep 2021 19:08
PA/National Space Science Center

China has unveiled plans for its Mars cruise drone, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d seen it somewhere before.

On Wednesday, September 1, the National Space Science Center (NSSC), under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), announced that a ‘Mars surface cruise drone’ had successfully passed its final acceptance review as of August 20.

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It’s understood that this rotorcraft was one of three projects in an NSSC promoted technology cultivation programme, led by the NSSC’s Bian Chunjiang, and will be kitted out with a micro spectrometer, all ready for the nation’s ‘subsequent Mars exploration’.

Mars helicopter (National Space Science Center (NSSC) National Space Science Center (NSSC)

Going forward, this concept could well be considered for Chinese Mars exploration trips at some point in the future, however – at the time of writing at least – the NSSC has yet to specify such a mission.

As impressive as this prototype may be, many people have been struck by the stark similarities to NASA’s own Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, a ground-breaking craft that made history earlier this year after successfully completing the first powered controlled aircraft flight on another planet.

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On April 19, 2021, Ingenuity successfully completed its mission, taking off vertically, before hovering and landing on the surface of Mars.

Mission aside, much like Ingenuity, China’s ‘Mars surface cruise drone’ sports a double pair of blades, required to power through the fewer molecules available in the thin Martian air.

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These twin sets of blades spin in the opposite direction at approximately eight times faster than a regular Earth-bound helicopter in order to get up in the air.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, China, NASA