Uncovered Ground

Mars has been the subject of research for years. Recently, scientists have found evidence suggesting water once flowed on the red planet. Yet, as far exploration of Mars’ surface, our rovers have only covered a little more than 37 miles. Given that Mars has a surface area of nearly 56 million square miles, there is plenty more ground to cover. Satellites can tell us a lot and rovers give us access to the surface but now NASA is looking to try a plane.


NASA new prototype flyer Prandtl-m (Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars) is set to be tested high in our atmosphere later this year. The 2.6 pound, fiberglass/carbon fiber model will be taken up 100,000 feet by high altitude balloon, where our atmosphere more resembles that of Mars’ thin air and weaker gravity.


Flying On Mars

The flyer will be sent up and deployed from the aeroshell of a rover mission early in the 2020s. Concerning its potential mission, Al Bowers, NASA Armstrong chief scientist and Prandtl-m program manager, highlighted it scoping out landing sites for a manned Mars landing. The craft could take extremely highly detailed photographs and map out possible landing sites. If these Earth tests are successful, the craft could be undertaking its mission in 10 years, an invaluable scout, giving us a better look at more of Mars' surface.


Sources: NASA, Popular Science
Images: Popular Science, NASA

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