An Airplane For Martians
A Virginia company is pinning its future on an out-of-this-world airplane. Aurora Flight Systems recently started building a plant at Manassas Regional Airport to build aircraft designed to fly over Mars. The hang-glider-like aircraft is the first intended to fly in the atmosphere of another planet and its mission is to take photos that have been hitherto unavailable to scientists studying the red planet. All of the photos of Mars to date have either been low-resolution images taken from an orbiter or high-resolution images from a vehicle on the surface. Only an airplane can take the kind of high-resolution aerial photos that fill in the scientific gap and Aurora intends to fill the void. The glider will be carried to Mars by rocket, folded up in a pod. It would be dropped from the space capsule, unfold itself and fly around taking photos. "You're getting the best of both worlds, from the rover perspective and the orbiter perspective."