View Full Version : Perfectly adorable little Martian aircraft gets MY vote

2003-May-17, 12:16 AM

An airplane that would skim the surface of Mars in the search for life and ancient history is one of four finalists in NASA's own search for the perfect machine to explore the Red Planet.

The airplane was designed by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton. The other finalists are an orbiter, a lander and a spacecraft that would fly about 30 miles above the planet's surface.

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The airplane, called the Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey, or ARES, was one of 25 proposals submitted to NASA headquarters in August. It soared through a test flight off the Oregon coast in September. Also here.

I mean, it's just so CUTE. :lol: But I do have one serious question--I thought Mars didn't have enough atmosphere to hold up an airplane? Or was I just not paying attention? It says they're going to test the full-scale prototype in Earth's "upper atmosphere". I mean, I realize they would hardly have gotten this far without thinking about that, it would be silly, it would be like forgetting to convert your equations from metric to non-metric... :D

2003-May-23, 12:36 AM
The martian atmosphere is something like 6 millibars near the surface where the Scout would fly (its web site is at http://marsairplane.larc.nasa.gov/). They have already tested a half scale prototype in the Earth's atmosphere at about 30 km altitude (or about 14 mb from a quick-and-dirty estimate). It looks like they've definately given a lot of thought to flying in very thin atmospheric conditions, so I'm confident it can work.

Personally, I think this is a great mission as well, and I really hope it gets to fly eventually, even if the scouts get bumped to a later window.