A glider on Mars, a crazy idea that makes a lot of sense

After the helicopter, the glider? Mars could indeed be the object of scientific missions carried out from gliders! A model specifically adapted to the red planet is under development.

The Ingenuity helicopter amazed the whole world during its flights over the planet Mars. The device, embarked by the Perseverance rover, has indeed caused a sensation by carrying out around thirty flights. If the feat is incredible, the helicopter has its limitations: it cannot fly too long or very high, not to mention the technical problems.

Hovering for Mars

The idea which germinated in the head of a team of engineers from the University of Arizona could remedy this: it is indeed developing a glider adapted to the Martian atmosphere, as explained in a study published in the review Aerospace. The device weighs about 5 kg for a wingspan of 3.4 meters. Its main source of energy is neither solar nor batteries, but quite simply the wind which is not lacking on Mars.

The engineers based themselves on the flight technique of the albatrosses which ” resembles the S-shaped trajectory used by skiers to control the descent of a mountain “, we explain to the university. When the glider changes direction, its altitude also changes and it gains speed. Result: the plane can remain in the sky for whole days, or even longer.

The scientific interest is capital: it is indeed in the Martian sky, a few kilometers from the ground, that the exchanges between the surface and the atmosphere are the most important. The gases are mixed, the dust is collected there… According to NASA, co-author of the study, there is a lack of data on all these subjects. The glider therefore has its place.

To send the glider to Mars, all it would take is a small satellite, and then the plane would unfold like an origami. Sending into the atmosphere could be achieved with the help of a balloon. The researchers will carry out tests on Earth with prototypes.

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