Flying a Helicopter on Mars Matters

Why does it matter that NASA has flown a helicopter over the surface of Mars? Among other things, it’s very, very difficult. Here’s more from MOTHERBOARD:

Indeed, flying close to the surface of Mars is the equivalent of flying at more than 87,000 feet on Earth, essentially three times the height of Mount Everest, NASA engineers said. The altitude record for a helicopter flight on earth is 41,000 feet.

Made up mostly of carbon dioxide, the less-dense atmosphere requires blade rotation speeds of 2,400 rpm for the chopper to remain aloft—five times what’s needed on Earth. Researchers also had only an estimate of what kind of wind speeds to expect, which was around 13 mph.

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