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Can A Drone Fly On Mars? [Everything You Need To Know]

Can A Drone Fly On Mars? [Everything You Need To Know]

There are many different types of drones, but the simplest are those with rotors powered by electricity. Though the logistics are somewhat difficult, there is no reason why a customized one could not fly across the Red Planet, in theory at least. A drone that is grounded on Earth is propelled upward, much like a helicopter, and the resulting thrust overcomes the pull of gravity.

A NASA-built drone circles Mars in real life. This drone was extensively modified by NASA to operate in Mars' atmosphere. It is unlikely that a drone purchased at the store will build enough propulsion in low-pressure areas to produce lift despite the increased gravity.

Since Mars' surface gravity is only about one-third that of Earth's, the rotors do not need to exert as much force to counteract its effects. However, the Martian atmosphere is much more brittle and has a density that is 60 times lower than that of Earth.

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Will A Drone Fly On Mars

Seventh in size and also referred to as the Red Planet, Mars. It is also the second planet after Mercury and the planet that is furthest from the sun. Mars has seasons, volcanoes, polar ice caps, icecaps, and canyons, like Earth.

For drones to function on Mars, they will have to adjust to the planet's dense atmosphere, but they must be able to switch between vertical and horizontal flight for takeoff, flight, and landing. We need to consider the elements that influence a drone's flight to provide a more scientific response to this query.

The climate of Mars has been extensively studied. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon make up the atmosphere of Mars, which is quite thin. It is a cool planet because of how far away it is from the sun. It is roughly minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit on average.

Thus, the varying temperature conditions on Mars have quite a substantial impact on a drone, making it challenging for a typical consumer drone to fly under these conditions. The reality is that Mars has a wide range of temperatures, and drone flight would have been impossible in its colder regions.

But in terms of temperature, there are some places on Mars where flying a drone is feasible. Ninety-five percent of Mars is carbon dioxide. In our atmosphere, the air pressure at ground level is equivalent to 100,000 feet. Air is exceedingly thin. A powerful magnetic field surrounds it.

A drone's primary means of producing thrust also involves the displacement of air, just like an aircraft wing does. Drones fly in the air which has a constant temperature and pressure on earth. This air displacement is what gives a drone its lift and control, allowing you to operate it safely.

Mars' surface is very different; the air pressure on the Martian surface is roughly 1% lower than that of Earth, according to University Today. Traditional drones generate propulsion via fan blades. A drone can get the boost it needs to soar higher by adjusting the speed and pitch of its blades.

The drone pilot may regulate both altitude and position, much like a regular helicopter pilot, by tilting the blades to exert power in any given direction. So, the question is, can a drone be used on Mars, even with radio link issues of control from Earth, given its environment and climate? In reality, a drone pilot would need to be nearby.

It is interesting to note that NASA is creating a drone to use on Mars. It is also fascinating that it does not resemble any model you could buy. This implies that some sophisticated engineering science was employed to effectively have a drone flying on the surface of Mars.

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How Can A Drone Fly On Mars

"Ingenuity," the very first aircraft to operate on an alien planet, launched from the Martian surface last month, created aviation history. Additionally, it might have opened up new opportunities for NASA's exploration of the planets' surfaces in the future.

Ingenuity, also known as Ginny, is a tiny robotic helicopter that is a component of NASA's Mars 2020 mission. It is a component alongside the Perseverance rover, which arrived on Mars on February 18, 2021, with Ingenuity attached to its bottom.

The helicopter was delivered to the planet on April 3, 2021, and then on April 19, it conducted the first powered, controlled flight outside of our solar system. The flight lasted 39.1 seconds and involved vertical takeoff, flying, and landing.

On March 21, 2021, Perseverance released the debris barrier that was shielding Ingenuity, and on April 3, 2021, the helicopter descended from the rover's bottom to the Martian surface. On that day, the helicopter's two cameras were put to the test, capturing the first black-and-white and color pictures of the base of Jezero Crater under the rover's shadow.

Ingenuity's prototype designs were put to the test under Earth's gravity and a simulated Martian atmosphere in 2019. To conduct flight tests, a sizable vacuum chamber was stuffed with carbon dioxide to imitate the extremely low pressure of the Martian atmosphere.

This pressure is roughly similar to that of a helicopter hovering 34,000 meters above the Earth's atmosphere. During flight tests, a rope tugging upwards offsets 62% of Earth's gravity to mimic the planet's far weaker gravitational field.

Engineers from AeroVironment, who had previously developed Ingenuity, presented the idea of a revolutionary helicopter with a 280 g payload in March 2022.

Director of NASA's Planetary Science Division Laurie Gleizes announced her desire to employ two of these helicopters during a presentation on September 15, 2022. As a result, the experience of producing Ingenuity will lead to practical applications.

The small helicopter's design prioritized weight reduction. The drone's rotos will move at a rate of around 2,400 rp, six times faster than its earthbound sibling. AeroVironment created the blades from a material that looked like Styrofoam and was coated with carbon fiber.

Keenon developed the drone's motor by experimenting. He claimed that it took about 100 hours to manufacture the first experimental motor he created for JPL. Ingenuity's construction and maintenance cost $85 million.

When Will The Drone Fly On Mars

A drone created by NASA is capable of flying on Mars. Fast forward to February 8, 2021, and they were able to deploy a drone there. This drone's identity was Ingenuity, and Qualcomm's Snapdragon Flight platform was used to build it. It was on deck with the Perseverance Rover when it was launched back in July 2021 by an Atlas V rocket from the United Launch Alliance.

This drone was created by NASA and Qualcomm Technologies. However, it was built on technologies that had been in development for years and enabled further developments including drones.

As was already mentioned, the air on Mars is extremely thin, making it challenging for drones to provide lift. Ingenuity was therefore created to be as compact as possible. Ingenuity was outfitted with automatic navigation and wise decision-making because it was impossible to get men up there to manage the drones with transmitters and transmission from Earth requires about 20 minutes.

This drone is made to perform at its highest level even at the absolute lowest levels because electricity may be a problem. Among the two drones NASA intends to launch by 2026 is 'Ingenuity.' They intend to land Titan, another drone, on Saturn's planet.

Final Thoughts

So, yes, drones can operate on Mars, although this is by no means conclusive. It is possible to make it work given that NASA has created one. It would not be feasible to ship a drone purchased from a store to Mars and have it function there, though. It would be challenging enough at the average global temperature as it is, however, the electronics would function at higher temperatures.