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Recent Efforts Enabling Martian Rotorcraft MissionsThe Mars Helicopter (MH), launching as a part of the Mars 2020 mission, will begin a new era of planetary exploration. Mars research has historically been conducted through landers, rovers, and satellites. As both government and private industries prepare for human exploration of the Martian surface within two decades, more in depth knowledge of what awaits on the surface is critical. Planetary aerial vehicles increase the range of terrain that can be examined, compared to traditional landers and rovers and have more near surface capability than orbiters. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and NASA Ames are currently exploring possibilities for a Mars Science Helicopter (MSH), a second-generation Mars rotorcraft with the capability of conducting science investigations independently of a lander or rover (although this type of vehicle could also be used assist rovers or landers in future missions). Preliminary designs of coaxial-helicopter and hexacopter configurations have targeted the minimum capability of lifting a payload in the range of two to three kilograms with an overall vehicle mass of approximately twenty kilograms. These MSH designs’ sizes are constrained by the aeroshell dimensions(currently focused on employing legacy Pathfinder or MSL aeroshells), rather than vehicle structural or aeroperformance limitations. Feasibility of the MSH configurations has been investigated considering packaging/deployment, rotor aerodynamics, and structural analysis studies. Initial findings suggest not only the overall feasibility of MSH configurations but also indicate that improvements up to 11.1 times increase in range or 1.3 times increase in hover time might be achievable, even with an additional science payload, compared to the current design of the MH.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Withrow-Maser, Shannah
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Koning, Witold
(Science and Technology Corp. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Kuang, Winnie
(Science and Technology Corp. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Johnson, Wayne R.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
February 7, 2020
Publication Date
January 21, 2020
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: Transformative Vertical Flight 2020
Location: San Jose, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: January 21, 2020
End Date: January 23, 2020
Sponsors: Vertical Flight Society
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
NASA Peer Committee
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