The Mars Helicopter will be a technology demonstration conducted during the Mars 2020 mission. The primary mission objective is to achieve several 90-second flights and capture visible light images via forward and nadir mounted cameras. These flights could possibly provide reconnaissance data for sampling site selection for other Mars surface missions. The helicopter is powered by a solar array, which stores energy in secondary batteries for flight operations, imaging, communications, and survival heating.

The United States Air Force and commercial aerospace industry recognize the importance of moving towards smaller, better, and cheaper spacecraft to support the nation’s increasing dependence on space-based technologies. Whether large or small, all spacecraft will require the same basic bus systems and environmental protection, simply scaled to fit the mission. The varying thermal environment in space is particularly important to spacecraft design and operation because of its affect on hardware performance and survivability.

Nonlinear Programming Applied to Calibrating Thermal and Fluid Models to Test Data (Semi-Therm 2002)