Advanced Aircraft Aims to Get Off the (Martian) Ground

UM’s GeCheng Zha has designed a Mars explorer more advanced than any that has previously surveyed the planet. The Mars Aerial Ground and Global Intelligent Explorer, or MAGGIE, is a solar-powered, remote-controlled electric fixed-wing airplane. Zha is perfecting electric vertical take-off and landing technology that would generate lift from innovative wings and propellers.

After travelling to Mars aboard a rocket, MAGGIE would fly more than 100 miles on a full battery charge, landing to conduct atmospheric and geophysical experiments. The Ingenuity helicopter covered about 11 miles during its three years of operation. MAGGIE would cover nearly 10,000 miles over the course of a Martian year (687 days). MAGGIE is still in the pre-prototype stage. “But our goal is to make history—the first fixed-wing aircraft to fly on the red planet,” says Zha.

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