A report discusses using the Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey (ARES) light airplane as an observation platform on Mars in order to gather data. It would have to survive insertion into the atmosphere, fly long enough to meet science objectives, and provide a stable platform.
Starting with a general aviation model, the design was tweaked to maintain a stable aircraft under expected Martian conditions. Outer mold lines were adjusted based on experience with the Martian atmosphere. Flight control was modified from a vertical acceleration control law to an angle-of-attack control law. Navigation was modified from a vertical acceleration control system to an alpha control system. In general, a pattern of starting with simple models with well-understood behaviors was selected and modified during testing.
This work was done by P. Sean Kenney and Mark A. Croom of Langley Research Center. LAR-17458