NASA is planning to develop new and innovative ways to explore the Martian soil. After receiving funding of $19.5 billion, they want to create the first flying drone to explore the Red Planet. They call the project Mars Electric Flyer and aims to explore areas which are not accessible for humans or other rovers.
When they developed the Mars Electric Flyer, NASA considered the conditions provided by the Martian thin atmosphere. Also, the drone is not meant only to reach locations on the planet which are hard to access with other means. It will also look for places which might allow humans to inhabit Mars.
The drone will function without a human controlling it. It will be connected with the other rovers which explore the soil. Thus, the researchers will have total control of all areas on the planet. As they want to use the drone for the exploration of regions with lava and tight tunnels, the scientists were careful with the building of the machine. They used light materials to ease its access in the most tough locations.
How does the drone work?
The Mars Electric Flyer flies in a vertical direction. It is autonomous, meaning that it needs no human to pilot it. It will use advanced visuals and mapping algorithms which will help calculate its navigation routes. The drone will also have a sensor system, which will make sure that it flies smoothly and records everything of importance.
Scientists equipped it to resist the harsh climate on Mars. Also, they used an experimental battery and engine to help it fly around as much as possible. They plan to attach the drone on top of a rover and thus transport it to Mars. When the rover reaches the surface, the drone is released into the atmosphere.
Scientists have to deal with some obstacles
There are several obstacles which scientists have to overcome to achieve a successful mission. They have to figure out how to make the drone fly in the Martian atmosphere. If you compare it to Earth, Mars has a much thinner atmosphere.
Also, the gravity is different and making the Mars Electric Flyer take off could be challenging. The Martian climate is harsher than anything ever seen on Earth. Thus, the explorer drone must withstand a lot of tough conditions.
At the moment, the drone is still in the stage of prototype. NASA posted a video of the Mars Electric Flyer and you can watch it below.
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