Status Report

Planetary Exploration Using CubeSat Deployed Sailplanes

By SpaceRef Editor
October 10, 2019
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Adrien Bouskela, Alexandre Kling, Aman Chandra, Tristan Schuler, Sergey Shkarayev, Jekan Thangavelautham

(Submitted on 9 Oct 2019)

Exploration of terrestrial planets such as Mars are conducted using orbiters, landers and rovers. Cameras and instruments onboard orbiters have enabled global mapping of Mars at low spatial resolution. Landers and rovers such as the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) carry state-of-the-art instruments to characterize small localized areas. This leaves a critical gap in exploration capabilities: mapping regions in the hundreds of kilometers range. In this paper, we extend our work on CubeSat-sized sailplanes with detailed design studies of different aircraft configurations and payloads, identifying generalized design principles for autonomous sailplane-based surface reconnaissance and science applications. We further analyze potential wing deployment technologies, including conventional inflatables with hardened membranes, use of composite inflatables, and quick-setting foam. We perform detailed modeling of the Martian atmosphere and possible flight patterns at Jerezo crater using the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS) to provide realistic atmospheric conditions at the landing site for NASA’s 2020 rover. We revisit the feasibility of the Mars Sailplane concept, comparing it to previously proposed solutions, and identifying pathways to build laboratory prototypes for high-altitude Earth based testing. Finally, our work will analyze the implications of this technology for exploring other planetary bodies with atmospheres, including Venus and Titan.

Comments: 14 pages, 18 figures, International Astronautical Congress 2019

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1910.03842 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1910.03842v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history

From: Jekan Thangavelautham 

[v1] Wed, 9 Oct 2019 08:29:07 UTC (1,766 KB)

SpaceRef staff editor.