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.
The feasibility of such a platform was tested using the Langley Standard Real-Time Simulation in C++. The unique features of LaSRS++ are: full, six-degrees-of-freedom flight simulation that can be used to evaluate the performance of the aircraft in the Martian environment; capability of flight analysis from start to finish; support of Monte Carlo analysis of aircraft performance; and accepting initial conditions from POST results for the entry and deployment of the entry body.
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