Chinese researchers are suggesting using a foldable quadcopter called MarsBird-VII to make collecting samples during the upcoming Mars exploration journey more efficient. This is a big step forward. The big journey, which is set to happen around 2028 or 2030, wants to bring back a sample from Mars.
The design of MarsBird-VII was recently released in the journal Acta Astronautica. It was made by experts at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China’s State Key Laboratory of Robotics and Systems. This innovative quadcopter is cleverly made to be foldable, which will save room on the trip to Mars. It is planned that it will land on Mars by itself and collect up to 100 grams (0.22 pounds) of important samples.
This paper goes into great depth about the structure and electronics of MarsBird-VII. The quadcopter’s guidance system combines gyroscope and binocular vision, which lets it fly itself on Mars. Previous versions have been tested, but MarsBird-VII is still waiting for flying tests in a simulated Martian setting. At the moment, there are no firm plans for how it will be used.
MarsBird-VII would be a big step forward in exploring Mars if it were to be part of China’s upcoming Tianwen-3 mission. It’s important to remember that this planned quadcopter wouldn’t be the first to land on Mars. That honor went to NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which flew 67 times on the surface of Mars with the Perseverance rover in 2021.
China’s creative plan to use flying technology in its study of Mars is similar to ideas that the National Space Science Center (NSSC) presented in 2021. This new trend shows that the ability to fly is becoming an important part of exploring Mars in more than one way, which opens up new ways for scientists to study and collect samples.
As space agencies around the world continue to push the limits of exploration, the plan for MarsBird-VII shows how technology and methods are always changing, opening up new ways to fully explore and understand Mars’s scenery.