Title of Presentation: An Aerial Vehicle Enhancement for Mars Exploration

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Andy A. Gonzales

Organization of Primary Author: NASA Ames Research Center

Co-Authors: L.G. Lemke


Abstract: Aerial vehicles have been considered for exploration of Mars for nearly 60 years. Mars is currently the subject of extensive robotic investigations, on the ground, and from orbit. Mars airplanes can provide an intermediate, gap-filling and complementary instrumentation platform. Deployment of a Mars airplane is made difficult by the fact that it must unfold immediately after it emerges from its atmospheric entry aeroshell. While unfolding, the airplane also performs a stressful high speed vertical dive and pullout to generate airspeed. This method consumes a large amount of altitude. An alternate deployment scheme which stabilizes the airplane and reduces the amount of stress applied and altitude lost is a highly desirable technological enhancement. Flight termination using a controlled, survivalable landing can provide additional mission-extending enhancements. A successful demonstration of a Mars airplane technology, utilizing an attitude control system to manage a highly stalled aircraft, and reduce mission risk is reported.