It has been revealed by NASA that it has a newly designed aircraft that will eventually become the first aircraft to fly over the Red Planet in the 2020’s. The acronym for the prototyping is Prandtl-m, or Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars.
The design features flying wings and they say that it will be ready for testing by the end of this year. The test will be conducted by launching the aircraft via a balloon at the altitude of 100,000 feet that should be enough to simulate Mar’s atmosphere.
As of now, the aircraft is far from being complete. The initial specifications include a wingspan of 24 inches and a weight of less than a pound when in Mar’s atmosphere. The aircraft the materials used for its construction is expected to be carbon fiber or fiberglass.
Once the aircraft passes the required tests, and it is ready to go to Mars, it will then be folded up and deployed from a 3U CubeSat. The CubeSat will be a part of the future rover that will be sent to the Red Planet.
The rover consists of 3 CubeSats that are research satellites measuring around 4 inches in each dimension that are stacked together. According to NASA the Prandtl-m will be a “part of the ballast that would be ejected from the aeroshell that takes the Mars rover to the planet.”