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Mars Exploration

  1. Mar 10, 2004 #1
    Hey there

    I just saw a show on Discovery about spacetravel, and a little question arose as the show ended:
    In the documentary, by my observations aged 3 -4 years, they mentioned a plane going to Mars to explore the planet. In the animations it looked alot like conventional airplanes with wings, propeller and the usual stuff... But is it at all posible to fly an aeroplane in the Martian atmosphere? No air to ride on? Or is my limited knowledge of how aeroplanes work too limited? Hope you guys can shed a bit of light on this matter.

    Best Regards

    Thomas Hansen
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2004 #2
    Atmosphere tenuous but not absent

    I forget the approimate figure for one Martian atmosphere of pressure at mean elevation but it's there. Sandstroms and dust devils (which the Mars Rovers are attempting to study) wouldn't be possible without an atmosphere. The fact that the sky is not black is also a clue to the presense of an atmosphere (sunlight must reflect off atoms/molecules in atmosphere to give sky it's color/hue).

    If the wingspan is large enough, velocity high enough and the vehicle light enough then you could fly robotic planes on Mars.
  4. Mar 10, 2004 #3


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    Yes, there's an atmosphere; but the pressure at 'ground level' is only ~<1% of that of the Earth. However, there's a quite significant variation due to 'height', time of day, and 'season'. http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/ask/atmosphere/ has more details.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  5. Mar 10, 2004 #4


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    The atmospheric pressure at ground level on Mars is roughly equal to the pressure at about 35km on Earth. The current record-holder for highest-flying aircraft on Earth belongs to the SR-71 (love tha Blackbird!) at about 24km.

    Ballons have also been proposed as Mars Explorers.Ballons have flown up to about 51km on Erth, so they could do the job. Another advantage would be the nearly limitless range of such a balloon. It could be warmed by the Sun to make it rise,and drift about the planet for a long time. The only power requirements would be for the intruments. Obviosly, the dissadvantage would be that we would have to observe whatever place it landed, without being able to steer to exact destinations. But it would really cover some territory!
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