30 Jun '15, 7pm

Foldable Airplane Could Ride a Cubesat to Mars in 2022

To ensure a safe landing on Mars, a rover inside an aeroshell has to haul along a bunch of ballast to help it orient itself before and after atmospheric entry. This ballast gets jettisoned at two different points in order to control the aeroshell’s center of gravity and attitude, so it’s very important to have along. But, it’s also useless, in that hundreds of kilograms of mass that you’ve hauled all the way from the surface of Earth out to Mars just gets dumped. NASA, knowing better than anyone how difficult and expensive it is to send stuff to Mars, has been soliciting ideas on how to do something useful with this balance mass. One brilliant idea that’s taken flight: an airplane . A micro-sized glider sounds like a good idea to me; it also sounded like a good idea to some NASA engineers and community college students working at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in Ca...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/robotic-expl...

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