NASA confirms a special plane is being built to fly on Mars

March 21, 2024 | by

One day NASA may fly a plane above the surface of the Red Planet, as the space agency is currently in the early stages of exploring the idea under its Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.

NASA’s NIAC program encourages the proposal of unique ideas that could transform the way NASA carries out its missions and one idea the space agency selected is called MAGGIE, or the Mars Aerial and Ground Intelligent Explorer. This conceptual technology has received NASA funding, and the above NASA-approved video showcases how Coflow Jet, the company behind the project, would carry out landing MAGGIE on the Red Planet and then deploy the extraterrestrial aircraft.

Notably, MAGGIE takes off vertically, just like a helicopter, and if you are wondering why that its designed that way there is one answer, Martian atmosphere density. Mars’ atmosphere is extremely thin with a density of about 1% of Earth’s, which means to generate enough lift for flight it must have many rotor blades spinning a speed much faster than a typical airplane on Earth. Just like taking off, MAGGIE is designed to also land vertically.

You can land any place you feel is interesting,” said Zha, the president and founder of Coflow Jet

So, why would NASA want a plane on Mars? The idea behind the concept is to traverse the Martian landscape at great speed and scout for any locations of interest, such as scientific prospects, potential frozen water, and terrain mapping. MAGGIE is currently designed to be foldable to fit inside NASA’s rocket, and when unfolded, it has a 26-foot wingspan.


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