Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey


Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey
ARES soaring over Mars.jpg
Simulation of ARES aircraft flying over Mars
Mission typeMars atmospheric probe
Mission duration1 hour on Mars
Spacecraft properties

The Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey (ARES) was a proposal by NASA's Langley Research Center to build a robotic, rocket-powered airplane that would fly one mile above the surface of Mars,[1] in order to investigate the atmosphere, surface, and sub-surface of the planet.[2][3][4] The ARES team, headed by Dr. Joel S. Levine,[5] sought to be selected and funded as a NASA Mars Scout Mission for a 2011 or 2013 launch window.[6] ARES was chosen as one of four finalists in the program, out of 25 potential programs.[7] However, the Phoenix mission was ultimately chosen instead.[8]

ARES would have traveled to Mars compactly folded into a protective aeroshell; upon entry in the thin atmosphere, the capsule would have deployed a parachute to decelerate, followed by ARES release at altitude.

As well as the aforementioned goals, the aircraft would also have investigated the atmosphere of Mars and its weak magnetic field.[9]


ARES would have been able to measure the crustal magnetization, spatial variability, and field magnitude of Mars, as well as resolving the crustal magnetism source structure with a spatial resolution two orders of magnitude higher than the Mars Global Surveyor.

ARES would also have allowed scientists to help determine the role of water vapor in the Mars atmospheric chemical cycle, and would have searched for potential biogenic gases, volcanic gases, and chemically active gases to determine their spatial distributions and to locate and/or constrain local sources and sinks. At the same time, ARES would have attempted to characterize the structure and dynamics of the Mars atmosphere's boundary layer, as well as its water-equivalent hydrogen abundance and ice burial depth over greatly improved spatial scales compared to past missions.[10]


Members of the ARES research team at the NASA Langley Research Center posing with a full-scale test airplane.

ARES would transit to Mars via a cruise stage and enter the Martian atmosphere in a traditional aeroshell with heat shield.[11] At the right altitude it would unfold itself into its flight configuration.[11] Propulsion would likely have come from a bipropellant rocket engine, which was a focus over other types of propulsion during its development,[12] but propulsion remained undetermined. The two main criteria used to evaluate the propulsion system were flight range and implementation risk. Possible propulsion technologies were electrical motors, internal combustion and rocket systems.[6] The aircraft was intended to fly for about one hour.

See also


  1. ^ "NASA - Why We Do IT for NASA". Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  2. ^ P.I: Joel S. Levine (November 20, 2009). "Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey". Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  3. ^ Lewis Page (24 November 2009). "NASA plans robot rocket aeroplane to fly above Mars". Space. The Register. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  4. ^ Stuart Fox (November 24, 2009). "NASA Robotic Rocket Plane To Survey Martian Surface". Popular Science. Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  5. ^ "Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | NASA selects four Mars Scout mission concepts for study". Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  6. ^ a b Christopher A. Kuhl (March 2009), "Design of a Mars Airplane Propulsion System for the Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) Mission Concept" (PDF), Mars Mission Concept, p. 10, retrieved 2010-03-26
  7. ^ Levine, J; Blaney, D.L.; Connemey, J.E.P.; Greeley, Ronald; Head Iii, James; Hoffman, John; Jakosky, Bruce; Mckay, Christopher; Sotin, Chrsitophe (2003-09-15). Science from a Mars Airplane: The Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey (ARES) of Mars. doi:10.2514/6.2003-6576. ISBN 9781624100949.
  8. ^ Grey Hautaluoma (Dec 21, 2007). "NASA Delays Mars Scout Mission to 2013". NASA. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
  9. ^ "ARES - Ensuring Reliability". NASA - Langley Research Center. January 14, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  10. ^ "ARES Mars Scout Mission Proposal - Science". 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  11. ^ a b Kuhl, Christopher A. "Mars Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) Coordinate Systems Definitions and Transformations" (PDF).
  12. ^ Kuhl, Christopher (2008-07-21). "Design of a Mars Airplane Propulsion System for the Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) Mission Concept". 44th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit. doi:10.2514/6.2008-5246. hdl:2060/20080030375. ISBN 9781600869921.

External links

  • TEDtalk: Joel Levine - Why we need to go back to Mars.