MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. A team of scientists from the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) is developing a fixed-wing robotic aerial platform together with specialists from India to study the Martian atmosphere and surface, MAI junior researcher in charge of the project’s UAV general and aerodynamic designing Yelena Karpovich told TASS on Tuesday.
The technology demonstrator is set to be tested by late 2024, she specified.
"The Mars robotic flying craft is being engineered by an international team that comprises computational fluid dynamics specialists from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur," Karpovich said.
The project envisages developing the concept of the fixed-wing aerial platform that could claim its niche along with existing Mars research probes, she specified.
The work on the Marsoplane began in April 2022 after the funding request was approved by the Russian Science Fund. Karpovich believes that the team of scientists will be able to successfully test the technology demonstrator by the end of next year.
"By the end of 2024, the Russian side will have to publish ten articles, build and successfully test the technology demonstrator," she said.
The project’s major difficulties consist in the specifics of the Martian climate and atmosphere and the UAV must be ready to deal with the Red Planet’s rarified atmosphere and dust storms, she pointed out.
"The specifics of the Martian atmosphere complicate the designing of the effective lifting surfaces and restrict us in choosing the powerplant. Dust storms require thoroughly designing protection for the systems and equipment and the flight profile of the flying craft with a small wing load," she explained.
In addition, it is necessary to find the method of placing the UAV into the carrier rocket’s nose cone, the researcher added.
"For this reason, our UAV must be either very compact or have a folding or soft structure design (an inflatable or self-hardening wing)," Karpovich said.
Cooperation with tech firms
The research team actively consults with many enterprises and scientific institutions of the domestic space rocket industry. In particular, the project’s research mission is being developed jointly with the Space Research Institute within the Russian Academy of Sciences, she said.
"Presently, together with specialists of the Space Research Institute, we continue discussing research tasks for UAVs and their relevant devices and flight profile, as well as areas on Mars that are of interest for studies. The scientific mission can include climatic, mineralogical and thermophysical studies, as well as the study of the Martian magnetic field," Karpovich said.
On its part, the Lavochkin Research and Production Association consults the team on the specifications of equipment and powerplant that can be used in outer space, she added.
"This raises our work to a completely different scientific and engineering level," she stressed.