My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: @NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Prandtl-m Drone – Surveying the Red Planet for Human Colony as the More the Merrier with Two Drones

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

@NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Prandtl-m Drone – Surveying the Red Planet for Human Colony as the More the Merrier with Two Drones

“The Prandtl-m could overfly some of the proposed landing sites for a future astronaut mission and send back to Earth very detailed high-resolution photographic map images that could tell scientists about the suitability of those landing sites”

NASA scientist and Prandtl-m program manager Al Bowers commenting on the NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Prandtl-m Drone

The first aircraft on Mars might actually be a stowaway scout drone that hitched a ride and was sprung from a cubesat.

That's the notion being put forward by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, who are developing the Prandtl-m Drone to glide over the surface of Mars by the 2020's as reported in the article “NASA reveals a boomerang-like plane designed to fly on Mars”, published June 30, 2015 by John Camdir, Digitaltrends.




The idea is that a drone could be sent to Mars to scout out possible landing sites for humans to land and start a Mars Colony.  It would be folded up inside of a cubesat along with the next Rover mission sent to Mars from 2022 to 2024 and deployed in the upper atmosphere as explained in the article “This could be the first airplane on Mars”, published June 30, 2015 by Amanda Kooser, CNET News.

NASA is intent on sending a manned mission to Mars. So erring on the side of safety, they've decided to get a lay of the land as unveiled in their plans for the Mars Prandtl-m Drone. In so doing, if this succeeds, they’ll become the first aeroplane or Drone on Mars!

So is this Drone up to the Task? Or will this drone get blown away in the wind?

NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Prandtl-m Drone – Surveying the Red Planet for Human Colony

The Prandtl-m Drone designed by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center is very small and compact, but advanced in design.

The team that designed the Prandtl-m Drone was actually a group of Aerospace Engineers who were interns at NASA between 2012 and 2013. It was originally made as a Radio-controlled Glider as explained in the article “This could be the first airplane on Mars”, published June 30, 2015 by Amanda Kooser, CNET News.




Prandtl-m Drone, which had a fuselage design similar to a flying wing, has a wingspan of 60.96 cm (24 in) and at 1.18 Kg (2.6 Lb), it is no heavier than a Laptop. The drone is possibly gonna be jam-packed with cameras, sensors such as LIDAR, Radar, Sonar, Barometer, gyroscope, GPS and even an electronic heliostat.

Being as Battery power won't allow the drone to fly for long, as it’s planed for a 32.19 km (20 mi) flight over the red planet. Prandtl-m Drone will probably use a Semi-Liquid Battery like those developed by University of Texas at Austin as described in my blog article entitled “University of Texas at Austin Semi-Liquid Battery – Liquid Gel Batteries in Smartphones means Battery life measured in years and not hours”.

This Battery will probably be trickle-charged using mini-solar panels located on the back on the wings to extend the flight time. 32.19 km (20 mi) is a little too short a jog for a planet that’s almost as big as the Earth; circumnavigation of the planet is possible wit solar panels and flying at higher heights.

Prandtl-m Drone Stratospheric and Mesospheric Tests – Two Drones possible as the More the Merrier

This might seem a bit much to pack, but on Mars, with has 4/10th the gravity of Earth, it'll make the Drone featherweight. However, the atmosphere is very thin, equivalent to what we'd experience at 100,000 ft or 18.94 miles (30.48 km), basically the upper Stratosphere.

As part of testing of the Prandtl-m Drone, NASA is conducting High-altitude tests at that height to simulate flying in a Martian atmosphere. The plan is to attach the Prandtl-m Drone to a weather balloon and send it up to that height to see how the airframe holds up to the thin atmosphere and high-velocity winds, typical of a day on Mars.

Future tests will involve going even higher to 450,000 ft or 85.23 mi (137.16 km), which is basically in the middle of the Mesosphere. This suggests the possibility that NASA might send not one but two (2) Prandtl-m Drone; one to scout closer to the ground and another to do the work that the Mars Communications Orbiter would normally do of mapping the Planet surface.

This is all good, as at least when other companies such as Swedish based Mars One plans to do their reality-show on Mars as explained in my blog article entitled “@MIT Study on Mars One - Why Staying Alive for 68 Days Eating Vegetables means Oxygen has a License to Kill”, they'll have the benefit of a hyper-detailed 3D map along with other up-to-date measurements which NASA can license to them for planning their missions.

In so doing, they'd have both telemetry data not only to locate suitable landing sites but also a more complete map of Mars from a bird's eye view. The year 2024 can't come quick enough to see NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center become the first to fly not one but two (2) Prandtl-m Drone on the Red Planet.

Here’s the link:




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