A 3U consists of three CubeSats, which are miniature research satellites that measure around 4 inches in each dimension, stacked together.
” “The aircraft would be part of the ballast that would be ejected from the aeroshell that takes the Mars rover to the planet”, Bowers said”.
Capable of self-correcting its altitude during descent, Prandtl-m could also unfold itself from a 3U or three-unit CubeSat and glide toward the surface, taking aerial snaps of key sites.
As NASA aims to launch a space exploration expedition on Mars in the 2020s, the space agency is preparing to test foldable glider drones that could conduct aerial surveillance for possible landing locations on the Red Planet.
Prandtl-m would be the name of the craft. It would have a flight time of 10 minutes in the Martian sky, in which it is expected to cover some 20 miles.
The hope is to send Prandtl-m to Mars by 2024, which will be here before you know it. NASA has already safely landed the monstrous Curiosity, which is about 2,000 pounds, on Mars, so landing something as light as the Prandtl-m should theoretically be a piece of cake.
As that part of Earth’s atmosphere is similar to the relevant one on Mars, researchers will have an opportunity to see how the plane is likely to perform.
“Our expectation is that they will recover”, he continued.
Although shaped like a boomerang, NASA’s proposed design isn’t meant to spin around and return to a certain point. Deployed, the aircraft would have a 60-centimeter wingspan, and would weigh about half a kilogram. It will be made of composite material, either fiberglass or carbon fiber. Then, in 2016, it is scheduled for a more extensive test which will total five hours of flight.
“We have a number of summer community college students coming that are going to help us design and build the aircraft that will complete the first phase of the mission”, Bowers said.
In his editorial, Hubbard referred to two high-profile movies that feature human missions to Mars: “The Martian”, which stars Matt Damon and premieres in October; and “Out of this World,” a film in development that has signed up Asa Butterfield (“Ender’s Game”) as its leading actor. At least one of those flights could include the testing of some scientific instruments on the Prandtl-m. “The balloon would drop the CubeSat container and then the aircraft would deploy from the container right after the drop, unfold and fly away”.
To begin with, NASA will be launching Prandtl-m from a balloon sitting at high altitudes.
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