NASA prototypes a drone plane destined for Mars
No, you are not taking a look at a really refined boomerang — that could be the primary plane to fly the Marian skies. NASA has revealed that it is constructing a prototype for Prandtl-m (Preliminary Analysis Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars), a glider drone that might launch from a descending rover and survey touchdown websites for the eventual manned mission. The 2-foot-lengthy car will weigh about 2.6 kilos on Earth, however Mars’ gravity will scale back that to 1 pound — mild sufficient that the craft might journey as much as 20 miles after beginning at 2,000 ft above the floor.
The rover will not launch till someday between 2022 and 2024, however you will not have to attend so lengthy to see the prototype in motion. When the prototype is prepared later this yr, it’s going to take off from a balloon carrying both the surveyor digital camera or gear to review excessive-altitude radiation. A second flight in 2016 will see Prandtl-m fly for so long as 5 hours till it lands on Earth, and a possible third flight would simulate the ultimate drone’s deliberate launch from a CubeSat. Whereas it’s going to possible take a lot, for much longer earlier than people are hovering over the Purple Planet, this could characterize an necessary first step.
[Image credit: NASA/Dennis Calaba]