Way back in 2015, NASA began work on an airplane that could fly through space. Specifically, they began to work on a Mars Airplane. On Friday, March 30th, 2017, however, this Mars Airplane project took flight once again.
This aircraft is called the: “Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars”, or “Prandtl-M”. As one would expect, the intention of this Mars Airplane’s goal is to “observe the Martian atmosphere and a variant that will improve collection of Earth’s weather data,” according to NASA’s own blog post about the project. The ideal time for this plane to really take off is still decently far into the future; they don’t expect it to go up and fly around Mars until 2022 to 2024, nearly 6 to 8 years from the present day.
One of the coolest things about the Mars Airplane project, however, is that NASA is gathering students to help take on certain tasks of the project.
NASA is hiring interns to help on the project! They’re looking for the “right personnel”, or people who are extremely passionate about this project and aspects of science and engineering.
From NASA’s website: “‘It is more important to find that student who has a passion for an area, a desire to be here and enthusiasm for that task – as opposed to finding the best credentialed student,’ Berger said. ‘We try to find a match with the students’ individual skills.'”
They’re relying on Pre-College, Undergraduate, and Graduate students to help the project get off its feet. And if you look on the website linked above, they’re also hiring interns in other areas as well! So if you have any interest whatsoever in working with NASA, you can check that out!
It’s always been difficult to fulfill the curiosity humans have had about Mars.
In fact, if you haven’t heard, the Mars Rover, properly named “Curiosity”, is beginning to show signs of damage. It can still drive around for now, but Curiosity’s left middle, aluminum wheel is experiencing breaks. Actually, Curiosity’s wheels are suffering pits and damage all over from constantly roaming around on the tough, Martian terrain. However, the breaks found on March 21st are the most significant pieces of damage the rover has suffered through yet.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Prandtl-M could replace a driving rover on Mars because of this! While Curiosity still has plenty of lifespan according to NASA anyway, if this Mars Airplane could take over the job (or at least part of the job), there may be less to worry about as far as hardware goes.