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MAR-HAB: Mars Hot Air Balloon

  • Wheeler, Lanleigh (author)
Publication Date
Jun 04, 2020
TU Delft Repository
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Human exploration on Mars is nearing actualisation and the space industry is therefore in need of vehicles with the capability of transporting goods and exploring the surrounding area. Current Mars rovers by NASA, such as the Curiosity, provide excellent researching capabilities from a remote location. <br/><br/>However, these land based drones are slower and less manoeuvrable around obstacles than airborne vehicles would be. Due to the need of transportation and exploration, this report aims to get acquainted with current research on Mars flight and provide a preliminary design concept enforced by the following mission goal:<br/>”To aid future Mars colonists by providing a feasibility study of a flying vehicle capable of carrying a predetermined payload.”<br/><br/>To approach this goal, it was decided to determine which flying vehicle concept would be the most optimal in a Martian atmosphere via a trade-off analysis. Four options were considered and a balloon was deemed more optimal for a Martian environment compared to aircraft, rotor craft and flapping wing vehicles. The main reasons for this are that the balloon is the most power efficient and is a design that provides the least amount of risk concerning likelihood of failure and safety of astronauts.Thereafter, the process required to design a hot air balloon and the programming of the code is described. Results indicate that a balloon with a prolate ellipsoid shape is optimal with the ratio between the minor and major axis being 0.41, therefore resulting in a balloon with a major axis radius of 33.8 푚 and a minor axis radius of 13.86 푚. A surface area of 131.58푚² is selected for the flexible solar cells which have been calculated to be able to power a two propeller system ensuring that the balloon can counter headwinds of up to 15푚/푠. <br/><br/>Finally, to ensure altitude control is possible, a venting system is applied on the top of the balloon ensuring a venting volume of 117푚³ is possible. This is enough to ensure the balloon can land, take-off and control its altitude as desired.This thesis is therefore able to provide an initial design for a Mars exploration balloon capable of controlling not only its altitude but also its position. This is achieved by using the solar energy to increase the balloon’s temperature and a vent area of 19.03 푚² to control this temperature. All this provides a design that can be controlled and meets the versatility requirement as it is capable of carrying a variety of heavy payloads and fly past ground obstacles

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