Data-driven CFD scaling of bioinspired Mars flight vehicles for hover

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Acta Astronautica
One way to improve our model of Mars is through aerial sampling and surveillance, which could provide information to augment the observations made by ground-based exploration and satellite imagery. Flight in the challenging ultra-low-density Martian environment can be achieved with properly scaled bioinspired flapping wing vehicle configurations that utilize the same high lift producing mechanisms that are employed by insects on Earth. Through dynamic scaling of wings and kinematics, we investigate the ability to generate solutions for a broad range of flapping wing flight vehicles masses ranging from insects O(10-3) kg to the Mars helicopter Ingenuity O(100) kg. A scaling method based on a neural-network trained on 3D Navier-Stokes solutions is proposed to determine approximate wing size and kinematic values that generate bioinspired hover solutions. We demonstrate that a family of solutions exists for designs that range from 1 to 1000 grams, which are verified and examined using a 3D Navier-Stokes solver. Our results reveal that unsteady lift enhancement mechanisms, such as delayed stall and rotational lift, are present in the bioinspired solutions for the scaled vehicles hovering in Martian conditions. These hovering vehicles exhibit payloads of up to 1 kg and flight times on the order of 100 minutes when considering the respective limiting cases of the vehicle mass being comprised entirely of payload or entirely of a battery and neglecting any transmission inefficiencies. This method can help to develop a range of Martian flying vehicle designs with mission viable payloads, range, and endurance.
Bioinspired unsteady aerodynamics, Flapping wing, Mars exploration, Mars flight vehicle concept
Pohly JA, Kang CK, Landrum DB, Bluman JE, Aono H. Data-driven CFD Scaling of Bioinspired Mars Flight Vehicles for Hover. Acta Astronaut. 2021 Mar;180:545-559. doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2020.12.037. Epub 2021 Jan 3. PMID: 35001985; PMCID: PMC8739330.