Albatross-inspired glider designed to soar over Mars

Scientists are designing a glider to soar over Mars at a time through the means of wind energy for propulsion. The design is inspired by a technique an albatross uses in flight.

The plane has a wing span of about 11 feet and will use several different flight methods, trying to accomplish the goal of “flying for free” without fuel.

Aerospace experts from the University of Arizona and a NASA planetary scientist have developed this design. The flight on Mars is challenging due to its thin atmosphere.

As of now, there are several spacecraft orbiting Mars, recording imagery of its surface, and also the ground rovers mapping small areas of the planet.

While these other forms of transport have been partly limited by power needs, the glider would use the energy available in the atmosphere itself, explained Adrien Bouskela, an aerospace engineering doctoral student at the University of Arizona.

“It’s kind of a leap forward in those methods of extending missions,” he said.

“Because the main question is: How can you fly for free? How can you use the wind that’s there, the thermal dynamics that are there, to avoid using solar panels and relying on batteries that need to be recharged?”

“One of the methods the glider will use is a technique employed by the albatross, called dynamic soaring, which takes advantage of the way wind speed changes with altitude. This technique could allow a glider to fly for hours or even days at a time, say the researchers,” a source as per BBC News.


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