Flying on Mars - Homework


Exploring the possibility of life on Mars has been of keen interest among scientists and engineers across the globe, more so in the past decade. There have been many unmanned missions to Mars by different countries with an objective of studying the Martian surface and its atmosphere. Past and current Mars exploration efforts rely mostly on unmanned surface rovers, but there has been a significant interest in designing unmanned drones for aerial exploration on Mars in future missions.

For a drone to successfully execute its mission and perform tasks in the Martian atmosphere, the aerodynamic forces and flow over the drone will have to studied using the properties of the Martian atmosphere to ensure optimum performance and maneuvering capabilities while in flight. As will be shown in this example, an aerodynamic body designed for the flight on Earth will not fly on Mars, so it needs to be redesigned for Martian operations.

In this example, a NACA 0012 airfoil will be simulated in the Martian atmosphere. The procedure for the simulation is the same as in the “Flying on Earth” example, with the only difference being the material properties of the atmosphere.

The question to be answered in this example is: How can we appropriately scale the airfoil’s geometry to generate a lift force in the Martian atmosphere equal to the lift force generated in the “Flying on Earth” example?




The main objective of this simulation is to visualize the flow over an airfoil operating in the Martian atmosphere, evaluate the aerodynamic forces acting on the airfoil and size the airfoil to be able to carry mission payloads.


Download the Mesh file required for setting up the simulation and associated Case & Data files here. Follow the instructions below to set up this simulation in Ansys Fluent starting with the mesh file. In case you face any issues setting up or running the simulation, refer to the corresponding initial and final Case and Data files.