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Suborbital Crewless Aerial Vehicles for Earth Surveillance and Mars Exploration

posted on 19.05.2021, 17:41 by Reed Spurling, Sergey Shkarayev, Adrien Bouskela, Maddie Schiffler
This talk was presented on 2021 April 17 at the AY2020-21 Arizona NASA Arizona Space Grant Statewide Undergraduate Research Symposium. The event was virtually available via Zoom.

Submitted abstract:
An autonomous sailplane capable of mimicking the dynamic soaring behavior of albatrosses could enable mapping and climatology on Earth, and investigations of otherwise inaccessible terrains on Mars. We have been working this year to develop, assemble, and test a weather balloon-based system to support experimental flights of a prototype sailplane at altitudes up to 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface, where the atmosphere is similar to Mars’ atmosphere. Thus far, we have launched this system twice, once without our sailplane—to verify the accuracy of our calculations and the proper functioning of electronics and telemetry systems—and once with the sailplane to test the preparedness of our ground station and balloon release mechanism, both designed and built by us. These launches verified the successful operation of the modified sailplane prototype, balloon release mechanism, and ground station, in preparation for future high-altitude flight tests.

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