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Conceptual design of an aircraft for Mars mission

Agnieszka Kwiek (School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 5 April 2019

Issue publication date: 15 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a conceptual design of Martian aircraft. This study focuses on the aerodynamic and longitudinal dynamic stability analysis. The main research questions are as follows: Does a tailless aircraft configuration can be used for Martian aircraft? How to the short period characteristic can be improved by side plates modification?


Because of a conceptual design stage of this Martian aircraft, aerodynamic characterises were computed by the Panukl package by using the potential flow model. The longitudinal dynamic stability was computed by MATLAB code, and the derivatives computed by the SDSA software were used as the input data. Different aircraft configurations have been studied, including different wing’s aerofoils and configurations of the side plate.


This paper presents results of aerodynamic characteristics computations and longitudinal dynamic stability analysis. This paper shows that tailless aircraft configuration has potential to be used as Martian aircraft. Moreover, the study of the impact of side plates’ configurations on the longitudinal dynamic stability is presented. This investigation reveals that the most effective method to improve the short period damping ratio is to change the height of the bottom plate.

Practical implications

The presented result might be useful in case of further design of the aircrafts for the Mars mission and designing the aircrafts in a tailless configuration.

Social implications

It is considered by the human expedition that Mars is the most probable planet to explore. This paper presents the conceptual study of aircraft which can be used to take the high-resolution pictures of the surface of Mars, which can be crucial to find the right place to establish a potential Martian base.


Most of aircrafts proposed for the Mars mission are designed in a configuration with a classic tail; this paper shows a preliminary calculation of the tailless Martian aircraft. Moreover, this paper shows the results of a dynamic stability analysis, where similar papers about aircrafts for the Mars mission do not show such outcomes, especially in the case of the tailless configuration. Moreover, this paper presents the results of the dynamic stability analysis of tailless aircraft with different configurations of the side plates.



Kwiek, A. (2019), "Conceptual design of an aircraft for Mars mission", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 91 No. 6, pp. 886-892.



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