First Flight on Another Planet!

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.


  1. Alex Red

    Alex Red

    Dag siden

    Not just flying on another planet. But flying on another planet with rarefied atmosphere and low gravity. In other instances it will need different calibration.



    2 dager siden


  3. demonsluger


    3 dager siden

    surely there is some plants that can work in such harsh environments and photosynthesize or we could make one. Then just send it to mars and let it create an atmosphere so its less volatile.

  4. Nelson Johnson

    Nelson Johnson

    11 dager siden

    But the speed of sound depends of the density of the same one.

  5. Jaxon Osborn

    Jaxon Osborn

    12 dager siden

    At 2:57 you see the scp logo on the door

  6. Ryan Bro

    Ryan Bro

    13 dager siden

    this is insane

  7. Jake Garrison

    Jake Garrison

    13 dager siden

    So what I'm hearing is that the search party for curiosity is coming along nicely

  8. Emmanuel M

    Emmanuel M

    17 dager siden

    I hate NASA. Why not send hundreds of drones. They lack creativity.

    • crash


      15 dager siden

      They lack funding.

  9. Man in the Park

    Man in the Park

    18 dager siden

    Hey look, they are trying to recreate the technology to fly to the moon and fly around the moon again. If we were only as technologically advanced today as we were 50 years ago.

    • crash


      15 dager siden

      If only we had some evidence of it being real then people could stop using that claim as evidence that the moon landings were faked.

  10. Kounkie Inc

    Kounkie Inc

    20 dager siden

    The speed of sound is lower then on earth right did they took that into consideration they probably have (but what is the speed of sound on Mars is it just 1% of the speed one earth or are there other variables)

  11. bummers


    22 dager siden

    @8:30 Chinese weight?

  12. John Doo

    John Doo

    23 dager siden

    My boss reaction, when I say, I need a bigger salary... 2:59

  13. Dean O

    Dean O

    25 dager siden

    Would a hot air or hydrogen balloon-style design work on Mars?

    • crash


      15 dager siden

      Not easily. The atmosphere on there is very thin so there aren't many options. Plus, you have to get it there. A balloon can easily break. And considering the winds that happen, it might not be the best option.

  14. sbmphr


    26 dager siden

    90 seconds flight time is a joke straight up then down like a periscope.

  15. Stephen Epstein

    Stephen Epstein

    29 dager siden

    How do you not ever name these brilliant engineers you have here telling your story? Seems kinda disrespectful.

    • sbmphr


      26 dager siden

      Classified, he would have to shoot you.

  16. aquatic bannana

    aquatic bannana

    Måned siden

    So what if the propeller breaks? Super sonic knives baby!

    • sbmphr


      26 dager siden

      Then it will become a million dollar piece of Martian scrap metal.

  17. nwstraith


    Måned siden

    What about the copter kicking up dust? Is that an issue?

  18. nwstraith


    Måned siden

    What about the rocket deployment vehicle for the last rover? That doesn't count?

  19. rubiks15


    Måned siden

    Alright, I'll ask what everyone is thinking... what happens when it tips over?

  20. Airguardian


    Måned siden


  21. Dan


    Måned siden

    So if everything goes as planned, then this will not only be the first powered aircraft on another planet, but it will also be the worst one we ever make.

  22. NITHIN S


    Måned siden

    So, who is watching after it flew on the mars.

  23. Jay Brown

    Jay Brown

    Måned siden

    I go for the Millions.... millions of views

  24. Prateek Maru

    Prateek Maru

    Måned siden

    Mars weather is suitable for fly helicopter!

  25. :Robert-Francis : Sullivan.

    :Robert-Francis : Sullivan.

    Måned siden

    Mars already has colonies... See Gaia Television interviews NASA/ JPL is a fake-program

  26. Ethan Krauss

    Ethan Krauss

    Måned siden

    Super interesting video, thanks Veritasium!! If you would like to see the first flight on earth, of an ion thruster with onboard power, please click on the channel icon to the left.

  27. Ron Wilson

    Ron Wilson

    Måned siden

    Maybe some day they could mount a reasonably high power laser on the ground module that could be directed toward the UAV to help keep it warm and thus give it more time aloft. Also they could build a deployable docking station away from the ground rover that could help recharge its batteries once it lands so it could make more than one flight per day.

  28. neye4ani


    Måned siden

    *simplist? ...most simple 3:45

    • Lünkel


      Måned siden

      "simplest" is a correct superlative of "simple"

  29. Iskandar Abbas

    Iskandar Abbas

    Måned siden

    Let's GET to The FUTURE

  30. Stephen Nield

    Stephen Nield

    Måned siden

    Incredible times we live in. I am so looking forward to this mission. Thank you, Derek, for this video!

  31. 00pingvin00


    Måned siden

    Have they provided a dust cleaning system for solar panels? On Mars a lot of dust and sand that will settle on them.

  32. OMG OMG


    Måned siden

    Why not methane? it can insulate more heat.

  33. AES


    Måned siden

    and i thought my 10min flight time drone was lame

  34. kletops46


    Måned siden

    Is it self righting ?

  35. Conrad Colman

    Conrad Colman

    Måned siden

    Great video, but shooting in front of a mirror is distracting



    Måned siden


  37. Andrey


    Måned siden


  38. AndroidDoctorr


    Måned siden

    12:17 - 13:10- filmed in ultra shaky cam

  39. fahad alenezi

    fahad alenezi

    Måned siden

    So Indians and asians actually do the work on nasa

  40. lovebird mic

    lovebird mic

    Måned siden

    II have an idea! Bring a camera so we can watch it as it takes off. Just place the camera in the sand, move the rover away so it's a bit away, but still visible, then take off. Not only will it probably be super cool, *if* something were to go wrong, but it might also give more data as to what. Then later, the rover picks the camera back up... Some... How...