Space & Astronomy
Prototype airplane could one day fly on Mars
By T.K. Randall
August 19, 2016 · 5 comments
An aircraft like this could be ideal for exploring large areas on Mars. Image Credit: NASA
Students in the US have conducted a successful test flight of a small remotely piloted glider aircraft.
Developed by students from several different institutions as part of a project known as Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars
(Prandtl-M), the aircraft has been designed to fly in the Martian atmosphere and could even go there as part of a future mission.
"The first successful flights felt like a huge relief," said Irvine Valley College mechanical engineering student John Bodylski. "At first, I didn't believe it and had to rewatch the footage from the flight."
The work is being conducted as part of a NASA endeavour which gives community college students the opportunity to participate in the development and testing of its various new projects.
If this one proves successful then an aircraft like this one could end up being used on Mars to fly over large areas and collect as much data as possible before sending its findings back to Earth.
"What we like about small prototypes and this student program is this is real research, real cutting edge technology development," said program manager Dave Berger.
"They can work on all the major areas of aerospace engineering, such as controls, aerodynamics, structures and instrumentation encapsulated in one project. The program is small enough that we can design and fabricate very fast and we can try something that no one has ever done before."
Source: Aerospace Technology
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