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karolp
I believe this approach was considered briefly in some kind of ESA/French plans of a Mars aeroplane. Namely, the spaceraft would take flight immediately after entering the atmosphere and simply stay afloat as long as possible. Taking the shuttle into account, I believe getting through the plasma and simply gliding on instead of immediate touch down is possible. I sort of like the direct and straightforward aspect to this - like removing a barrier in space exploration?

Also, perhaps that would be possible for... ground-based vehicles? We already did airbags and vertical powered landing, but how about using the speed horizontally? How about taking a low angle approach, slowing down just to have a non-damaging speed level and then just sliding on the ground for maybe tens of kilometers while having some sort of camera attached to a capsule holding the actual spacecraft? That camera could stay on top if we attached some kind of stabilizers to the protectice capsule, which would also be elongated for that purpose... Imagine having a camera travelling much further than the current 11 km record and taking pictures all along the way? I know this sounds way too crazy, but just on the technical feasibility level, is it at all possible?
dmuller
I think one of the old Soviet probes tried to release a balloon as they landed on Mars, if memory doesnt fail me (again). A ballooning mission (rather than a plane) is being thought about for a possible future mission to Titan as well
nprev
In terms of complexity, a balloon is a much less risky approach...and UMSF is all about minimizing mission risk.
JonClarke
QUOTE (dmuller @ May 25 2008, 12:17 AM) *
I think one of the old Soviet probes tried to release a balloon as they landed on Mars, if memory doesnt fail me (again). A ballooning mission (rather than a plane) is being thought about for a possible future mission to Titan as well


Hi Daniel

This was the joint Russian-Planetary Society-French balloon project. It never flew.

The Russians successful released two balloons, one each, from the VeGA 1 and 2 landers they descended through the atmsophere of Venus.

Jon
climber
QUOTE (JonClarke @ May 25 2008, 04:27 AM) *
Hi Daniel
This was the joint Russian-Planetary Society-French balloon project. It never flew.
The Russians successful released two balloons, one each, from the VeGA 1 and 2 landers they descended through the atmsophere of Venus.
Jon

...and the French "God" for this is Jacques Blamont. According to AW&ST he was on a cooperation meeting between Chinese vs Other in Beijin recently. He's the father of the Balloon that inflate during the day and deflate during the night (landing) concept. Very simple and straitforward. Hope it'll fly in the future. I met Jacques once in Pasadena for Voyager II encounter with Neptune with the TPS (Planetfest 89 it was). BTW, GO Phoenix, GO !
JonClarke
QUOTE (climber @ May 25 2008, 04:12 AM) *
...and the French "God" for this is Jacques Blamont. According to AW&ST he was on a cooperation meeting between Chinese vs Other in Beijin recently. He's the father of the Balloon that inflate during the day and deflate during the night (landing) concept. Very simple and straitforward. Hope it'll fly in the future.


It is so elegant I hope it does.
tasp
Maneuverable ballute concepts have been discussed in regards to landing on Triton and/or Pluto here. Might be interesting to see if anyone has any ideas for hybridizing ballute/hypersonic/supersonic/subsonic techniques for Martian conditions.

Explosive bolts would allow virtually instantaneous reconfiguration of a vehicle as different flight regimes were encountered . . .

Greg Hullender
The Mars Airplane idea has been around. Here are a couple of links:

http://marsairplane.larc.nasa.gov/platform.html (Nice pics with this one.)

http://www.redpeace.org/ (This one has a little more substance)

I was a little surprised, since I'd thought airplanes had to be supersonic to fly on Mars, but apparently not. Without an oxygen atmosphere, though, the plane ends up awfully heavy.

--Greg
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