First Flight on Another Planet!

  • Published on Aug 10, 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 • 4 734

  • Jeremiah Halpin
    Jeremiah Halpin 9 minutes ago

    Why not a landing pad on the larger rover with charging capabilities to recharge the helicopter

  • اصطلاحي
    اصطلاحي Day ago

    The shameless Chinese can't believe how much detail was given away in this video. Soon they'll be copying this 'copter and selling it back to NASA.

  • DjofDeVos
    DjofDeVos Day ago


  • Alex Red
    Alex Red 3 days ago

    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.

    BULU HARZA 4 days ago


  • demonsluger
    demonsluger 4 days ago

    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.

  • Nelson Johnson
    Nelson Johnson 12 days ago

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

  • Jaxon Osborn
    Jaxon Osborn 14 days ago +1

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

  • Ryan Bro
    Ryan Bro 15 days ago +1

    this is insane

  • Jake Garrison
    Jake Garrison 15 days ago +2

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

  • Emmanuel M
    Emmanuel M 19 days ago

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

    • crash
      crash 17 days ago

      They lack funding.

  • Man in the Park
    Man in the Park 19 days ago

    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
      crash 17 days ago

      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.

  • Kounkie Inc
    Kounkie Inc 22 days ago +1

    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)

  • bummers
    bummers 24 days ago

    @8:30 Chinese weight?

  • John Doo
    John Doo 25 days ago +5

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

  • Dean O
    Dean O 27 days ago

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

    • crash
      crash 17 days ago

      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.

  • sbmphr
    sbmphr 28 days ago +2

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

  • Stephen Epstein
    Stephen Epstein Month ago

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

    • sbmphr
      sbmphr 28 days ago

      Classified, he would have to shoot you.

  • aquatic bannana
    aquatic bannana Month ago

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

    • sbmphr
      sbmphr 28 days ago +1

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

  • nwstraith
    nwstraith Month ago

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

  • nwstraith
    nwstraith Month ago

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

  • rubiks15
    rubiks15 Month ago

    Alright, I'll ask what everyone is thinking...

    what happens when it tips over?

  • Airguardian
    Airguardian Month ago


  • Dan
    Dan Month ago

    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.

    NITHIN S Month ago +1

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

  • Jay Brown
    Jay Brown Month ago

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

  • Prateek Maru
    Prateek Maru Month ago

    Mars weather is suitable for fly helicopter!

  • :Robert-Francis : Sullivan.

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

  • Ethan Krauss
    Ethan Krauss Month ago +1

    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.

  • Ron Wilson
    Ron Wilson Month ago

    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.

  • neye4ani
    neye4ani Month ago

    *simplist? ...most simple 3:45

    • Lünkel
      Lünkel Month ago

      "simplest" is a correct superlative of "simple"

  • Iskandar Abbas
    Iskandar Abbas Month ago

    Let's GET to The FUTURE

  • Stephen Nield
    Stephen Nield Month ago

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

  • 00pingvin00
    00pingvin00 Month ago

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

    OMG OMG Month ago

    Why not methane? it can insulate more heat.

  • AES
    AES Month ago

    and i thought my 10min flight time drone was lame

  • kletops46
    kletops46 Month ago

    Is it self righting ?

  • Conrad Colman
    Conrad Colman Month ago

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

    SABIR KHAN Month ago


  • Andrey
    Andrey Month ago


  • AndroidDoctorr
    AndroidDoctorr Month ago

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

  • fahad alenezi
    fahad alenezi 2 months ago

    So Indians and asians actually do the work on nasa

  • lovebird mic
    lovebird mic 2 months ago

    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...

  • filopat67
    filopat67 2 months ago

    That blue board on the side of the helicopter, is that an Arduino? :D

  • Khaithang Haokip
    Khaithang Haokip 2 months ago

    Bolaram is the kind of name you associate with a poor Indian peasant who is at the mercy of a cruel landlord, add a 'Bob' at the beginning and you have this NASA aerodynamic scientist making the first copter that would fly in Mars.

  • Muhammad Asyfa
    Muhammad Asyfa 2 months ago

    These intelligent guys seems to be stunned when they realise the complexity of nature, while I don't even know what is going on.

  • RajvarTech-S
    RajvarTech-S 2 months ago

    Is there air in Mars? If no, how an Helicopter fly?

    • Релёкс84
      Релёкс84 Month ago +2

      There is an atmosphere but it's very thin.

  • Gigson Aquino
    Gigson Aquino 2 months ago +1

    this is not true

  • Philippe Rockholt
    Philippe Rockholt 2 months ago

    Explain why Satellites and ISS don’t melt in the thermosphere?

  • Beakerzor
    Beakerzor 2 months ago +2

    2:50 Apple's macbook just got weight-shamed! it's so damn heavy!

  • Ezekiel Nual
    Ezekiel Nual 2 months ago

    If theres all most no atmosphere on mars so we need pollution on mars man

  • progetto aladino
    progetto aladino 2 months ago

    the intensity of the air is less than that of the earth, the blades should be more inclined to suck up more upward force otherwise it would be like running with a neutral engine or increasing the engine revs but it would cause too much overheating or give a suitable inclination to create the right vortex of air for detachment from the ground.then I add a quadcopter much better would be more stable

  • Philippe Rockholt
    Philippe Rockholt 2 months ago

    Cartoon science better known as fairy tales for adults.

    • Релёкс84
      Релёкс84 Month ago

      Fairy tales are written in books

    • Tornado In A Junkyard
      Tornado In A Junkyard 2 months ago

      Oh, really? Please, tell me more about how you disproved all of known physics using nothing more than arguments from incredulity.

  • Matt Montgomery
    Matt Montgomery 2 months ago

    At first, I didn't think of recharging the batteries, and I was thinking: "90 seconds, and that's it? Entire mars mission done!" Then, of course,r they are rechargeable.

    Now wondering if the small panel on top is enough to be self-reliant, or if the rover would be able to charge it too. And if it is self-reliant for power, I suppose it stays close to the rover to be able to communicate back to Earth?

    Great Vid.

  • Pro Vk
    Pro Vk 2 months ago

    I like veritasium
    Like a little Lego

  • Luke Dominic O'Donnell
    Luke Dominic O'Donnell 2 months ago

    isn't the speed of sound variable in different atmospheres?

  • goldplayz roblox
    goldplayz roblox 2 months ago

    Did u just bought a real drone just for this video?

  • Miguel Gabiola
    Miguel Gabiola 2 months ago

    Use boston dynamics a.i. tech...🤔

  • skizinator
    skizinator 2 months ago

    3 Smartphone batteries are closer to 9.000 mAh not 40.000 mAh. 40 Ah comes to 10 to 15 smartphone batteries.

  • Bram den Braber
    Bram den Braber 2 months ago

    this made me wonder. Is the speed of sound constant?

    • Релёкс84
      Релёкс84 Month ago +1

      It depends on the medium: it is much faster is water for instance, and even faster in rigid materials like metal. When it comes to gas, the speed of sound varies a bit depending on the composition and temperature.