The First American UFO over Mars
A prototype of the flying wing aircraft debuted this week. The Preliminary Research Aerodynamics Design to Land on Mars, Prandtl-m, will test launch from a high altitude balloon later this year. A 100,000 foot altitude release will simulate flight conditions of a Martian atmosphere.
The aircraft is designed to hitch a ride in a CubeSat, a commercial miniaturized satellite. The Prandtl-m would function as ballast until jettisoned, becoming a UFO over Mars. The craft could piggyback aboard the 2022-2024 Mars rover mission without affecting the mission’s cost. As few as three CubeSats could carry one Prandtl-m.
It would have a flight time of right around 10 minutes. The aircraft would be gliding for the last 2,000 feet to the surface of Mars and have a range of about 20 miles, Al Bowers, NASA program manager said.
The flying wing design of the Prandtl-m is made of composite material with a 24-in (61-cm) wingspan and weights 2.6 lb. It’s able to hitch a ride on the CubeSat because the design permits it to fold. The design orientation will be put to the test in upcoming tests. The innovative design and lack of impact to mission cost bodes well for the first design vying to become the first UFO over Mars.
Also Read: SpaceX Misses One in Florida
The Flight Opportunities program has agreed to fund two balloon flights over the next several years. Bowers plans to include summer community college students. Part of the project’s goal is to provide students the opportunity to affect space flight in a profound way. In fact, the project was born out of a brainstorming session focused on generating projects for college students.
If successful the drops will be followed by a drop from a rocket. The folded Prandtl-m would fall from 450,000 ft, deploying its glider around an altitude of 110,000 ft. On Mars, the deployment would take place around 2,000 ft. The low-altitude reconnaissance mission would include some scientific research specific to the Mars mission.
Images From NASA.