Mars aerial nuclear global landing explorer: A global mobility and multi-mission platform

Ge Cheng Zha, K. M. Haefner, B. M. Hayton, M. Ding

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


This paper conducts a preliminary feasibility study on a novel global mobility and multi-mission Mars exploration platform, Mars Aerial Nuclear Global Landing Explorer(MANGLE). MANGLE is an aerial and ground system powered by nuclear propulsion to fly in Martian atmosphere with vertical take-off/landing capability. The Martian atmosphere, composed of 95.3% carbon-dioxide, will be used as propellant for an air-breathing engine heated by a fission nuclear reactor based on the open Brayton cycle. The engine will generate both thrust and accessory power. The cruise Mach number of MANGLE is 0.41. The engine power required is 2.1MW at takeoff/landing and 0.4MW at cruise. The total system mass is 899kg. The low weight of the vehicle is attributed to the lack of carried on propellant and radiator as well as the extremely high power and energy density of nuclear fission. The ultra-high lift co-flow jet flow control airfoil will be implemented on the blended wing-body configuration to achieve a cruise lift coefficient of 3.5, which is 5 to 10 times higher than a conventional airfoil. MANGLE will not only perform a scientific mission to investigate the Martian atmosphere, but will also land to collect soil samples at locations of interest observed from aerial survey. A deep drill of the soil sample up to 1 meter or more is possible due to the high shaft power from the air-breathing engine. MANGLE can transport the acquired ground samples to a base on Mars for sophisticated examination. The MANGLE mission period is one Martian year in order to investigate the seasonal variation of the atmosphere and surface soil. MANGLE will fly for 2/3 of the total mission time to survey the atmosphere and surface and the remaining 1/3 of the time will be spent on the ground for surface sample collection and examination. The range is sufficient to circle Mars 160 times during the mission.The preliminary feasibility study indicates that the MANGLE concept is feasible and the required technologies are achievable. MANGLE will revolutionize Martian scientific missions by enormously increasing the mobility in the atmosphere and on the ground, significantly benefiting mankind’s efforts to explore the Martian planet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference 2014
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781624103032
StatePublished - 2014
Event50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and exhibit 2014 - Cleveland, United States
Duration: Jul 28 2014Jul 30 2014

Publication series

Name50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference 2014


Other50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and exhibit 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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