Aurora Chosen for NASA Mars Scout Mission Study

Press Release From: Aurora Flight Sciences
Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

image Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation announced today that it is a member of the Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) team, whose proposal is one of four selected for Phase II of NASA's Mars Scout mission. Aurora is the airframe provider for the ARES team, which is led by the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The ARES mission will use a small robotic aircraft to provide the first direct measurements of the near-surface chemistry of the Martian atmosphere. These measurements will yield information critical to helping scientists understand the evolution, climate, and potential for life on Mars.

"Aurora is very pleased to be part of the NASA Langley team," said Aurora's president John Langford. "Designing the first aircraft to fly in another planetary atmosphere is both an honor and a challenge." This development represents another successful step in Aurora's leading-edge work to prepare robotic aircraft technology for scientific application on interplanetary missions.

The MarsFlyer is a half-scale prototype of an aircraft that may one day be used to study Mars and its atmospheric environment. The vehicle has been successfully proven in test flight at an altitude of almost 19 miles, confirming its ability to deploy its wings and tail and demonstrating its aerodynamic performance. The test flight showed the readiness of robotic aircraft technology for planetary exploration.

MarsFlyer is the subject vehicle of the Langley team's ARES proposal, one of four proposals judged to have the highest science value among those submitted in response to the Mars Scout 2002 Announcement of Opportunity. Building on its winning mission concept study and successful high-altitude demonstration, the team will receive up to $500,000 to conduct a six-month implementation feasibility study focused on cost, management, and technical plans.

Aurora Flight Sciences is a leading supplier of unmanned air vehicle designs, components, and flight services for government, industry, and academia. We operate facilities in West Virginia, Northern Virginia, and California. We specialize in high-altitude UAVs, and are a major supplier of composite structures for the Global Hawk air vehicle.

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