A group of students at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California successfully flew a prototype of an aircraft. It’s not just any prototype, but one that is believed that could one day fly in the Martian atmosphere and send its findings back to Earth. The aircraft has a width of the wingspan of only 0.6 m and is about the size of a kite.
Called the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M the aircraft flew on the 11th of August and continued a different group of student’s effort that began last year. They renewed the design of the first project before eventually examining its flight capabilities.
John Bodylski, an engineering student at Irvine Valley College in California, announced that it was a total relief when the prototype raised to their expectations and the first successful flights took place.
Having seen their project working properly is exciting, but they are still working on improving their aircraft. The team connected it to a balloon that transported it to about 30,500 meters in altitude to test how the aircraft would operate in Mars’ atmosphere.
Bodylski is participating in a NASA trainee program focused on developing skills learned at school and practicing those techniques to a research challenge. The NASA Flight Scholars exercise, which concentrates on giving community college students an initial opportunity to conduct research is the key component of the Prandtl-M team.
Moreover, the Education Unmanned Aerial Systems activity gives college students an occasion to work on NASA UAS projects.
Inspiring and impressive students, while developing a talent pool for NASA and the aerospace industry, are key to technology, science, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge that is a purpose of the agency.
Dave Berger, the manager of education activities at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, stated that although the student program is about small prototypes, this is a real investigation, genuine cutting-edge technology improvement. Moreover, students can operate in all the major areas of aerospace engineering, such as structures and instrumentation, controls, aerodynamics, encapsulated in one project.
With hard work and determination, the students consider the Prandtl-M and its systems they supported to develop and validate will one day fly the skies of Mars.
Image source: Wikipedia