Armstrong Flight Research Center
June 1, 2020 – August 21, 2020
What has been accomplished to date on your research project?
The Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars (PRANDTL-M) is a project that strives to create a mesh sensor network for Earth and Mars-based atmospheric monitoring using a swarm of gliders. The gliders ideally will have a wingspan of less than 24 inches that can be replicated in order to create a sufficient-sized swarm that will be spread in all directions on the surface of Mars. The data collected by the swarm can be used to pinpoint an appropriate human landing spot for future Mars missions. Data acquired from flight testing is used in parameter estimation analysis to determine the aerodynamic coefficients of the current design of the glider. By taking the design through a set of controlled motions capturing flight data we were able to estimate stability and control parameters that make up the linear models of force and moment coefficients. This was done by reducing the flight data using a parameter estimation software such as Armstrong’s own pest code. An analysis can then be performed to determine the similarities to the predicted modeling coefficients. Ideally, the experimental results match the predicted coefficients which confirm the accuracy of the estimated parameters for the mission.
What goals remain for the second half of the internship?
Continuing with the project may be challenging at times as a result of the restrictions of communication and access to labs due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, by combining our efforts and having the interns overlap responsibilities and accountability each individual assignment may be brought together to take another step in the project itself. In the second half of the summer, the main goal will be to receive varying data and information about aerodynamic coefficients, CAD models, and more to create an interface in a flight simulator. With the combined data of all the project’s interns, the simulator will be able to test estimated and/or theoretical values on the glider without manufacturing and experimenting in real life. Not only will this allow for significant progress this summer; however, in future sessions, this could potentially save resources and money on creating a glider with a small and simple change that might not be worth it. As this is a new aspect that the project has not yet ventured into it will be crucial to document every step and every mistake to make sure that the process may be repeated and continued later by the next intern.