NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter aircraft on Mars has been a complete success. Shipped to a red planet tied to a Perseverance rover by 2020, it now flies 27 times on a short exploration trip.
Intelligence reaches areas where rover can not — especially in rocky terrain — but has its limitations. Its small size means a small battery, which means it can fly for only three minutes at a time and reach only 39 meters.
So engineers have devised something even better for the future voyage to Mars, which may be even longer — the albatross.
Mars is covered at the top with several orbiters and the bottom with several rovers, but apart from the Ingenuity test planes, there are no eyes on that middle layer.
It means that planetary scientists have no data on the Martian climate and geological features such as volcanoes and ravines. It all happened for the first few miles above the EarthEarth.
“This is where all the exchanges between the earth and the atmosphere take place, where dust is taken up and sent into space, where trace gases are mixed, and where high wind turbines with the flow of mountain valley occur,” he said. Alexandre Kling, a research scientist at NASA’s Mars Climate Modeling Center. “We don’t have many details about it.”
King is therefore partnering with a team of University of Arizona engineers to develop the concept of a lightweight, low-cost, air-powered aircraft. Published in the journal Aerospace this week, their paper explains that albatross-style objects — 11-foot-long [11 kg] — can fly over the Martian for days on end using only wind power to move forward. The brain weighs about 4 lbs.