NASA develops flying drones to explore Mars

The study of the Red Planet with the speed of equipment movement of 16 km in 4.5 years is depressing for all researchers. The creation of high-speed rovers is also under an unspoken ban due to the reckless risk of accidental breakdown. The rover + drone combination should become a compromise, and the first aircraft for the atmosphere of Mars are already undergoing flight tests in a low-pressure chamber.

The concept of the new research module makes it possible to take into account almost all the hitherto unfulfilled wishes of scientists. First, the drone combines the qualities of a flying wing and a vertical takeoff system. He can glide, flying over vast areas in each session, and hover near rocks. Explore deep canyons, climb mountains, even climb inside caves.

Second, the system is as autonomous as possible. Instead of waiting for a signal from Mars, 4-20 minutes in one direction, and moving the rover a centimeter, you can give the whole range of take-off-landing-synchronization procedures under the control of the drone itself. And the rover is equipped with a manipulator and itself takes out and places the drone in the compartment for transportation and recharging.

NASA speaks briefly about propulsion technologies for rovers and drones, engines, navigation and mapping systems - the most advanced, most of them are still experimental. The most important task that needs to be solved now is working out the algorithms for the transition from vertical flight to horizontal flight. Mars has a very rarefied atmosphere, and the force of gravity is small, so all solutions for the Earth are useless, you need to start from scratch.

The main purpose of both the next-generation rovers and drones for them, NASA still calls the satisfaction of the interests of not scientists, but colonists. Autonomous scouts will go ahead and find the best corners for building bases. And they will be needed pretty soon.