Scientists work on getting flying saucers to Mars

These flying saucers would use natural light to receive energy in the atmosphere of Mars. A new idea for space exploration.

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania are working on developing flying saucers and taking them to Mars. The objective: to explore the atmosphere of the red planet.

For this they would use natural light, taking advantage of the energy to be able to float. Mohsen Azadi of the University of Pennsylvania is leading the research.

“Our experimentally validated theoretical model predicts that the lifting forces can be many times the weight of the films. This allows for payloads of up to 10 milligrams for inexpensive, sunlight-powered discs. « 

« They would reach altitudes of 50 to 100 kilometers, » say the scientists.

In addition to Azadi are George Popov, Zhipeng Lu, Andy Eskenazi, Avery Ji Won Bang and Matthew Campbell. Howard Hu and Igor Bargatin also join.

How do these microscopic flying saucers work?

The saucers feature plastic plates, using LED power within a vacuum chamber. Each disc is made of mylar, a polyester film and plastic sheet, and coated with carbon nanotubes on the bottom.

As these nanotubes heat up, the air particles below are energized, generating an upward force.

The experiment was conducted in a cylindrical acrylic vacuum chamber, which allows easy illumination of the discs from any direction.

Each saucer measures just six millimeters: they were placed in a chamber and the LEDs were turned on.

By firing lasers or reflecting sunlight onto the discs, they were pushed a small distance into the air. By adjusting the LED light, the flying saucers could be directed.

The advance has the attention of NASA, which is looking for potential technologies for exploring Mars.