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MAGGIE Mars Aerial and Ground Global Intelligent Explorer

NASA is planning something futuristic for Mars exploration, a kind of fixed-wing solar energy aircraft. They've named it MAGGIE (Mars Aerial and Ground Global Intelligent Explorer).


( Graphic depiction of Mars Aerial and Ground Global Intelligent Explorer (MAGGIE) )

MAGGIE's mission involves a comprehensive exploration strategy, aiming to unravel mysteries related to Martian geophysics, atmospheric chemistry, and the planet's potential for supporting past or present life. The data collected will be instrumental in advancing our knowledge of Mars and expanding the possibilities for future exploration and research.

MAGGIE would be developed in such a way that it could travel 179 kilometers at 1,000 meters altitude on a fully charged battery in 7.6 Martian days (sol).

Among the other key details shared by NASA, this Martian aircraft is expected to have a cruise Mach number of 0.25 and a cruise lift coefficient (CL) of 3.5 roughly ten times greater than ordinary subsonic aircraft.

​​Furthermore, the unique CoFlow Jet (CFJ) technology would allow the aircraft to soar through the low-density atmosphere of the Red Planet.

Irresistibly, science fiction fans think of the beautiful dragonfly-style aircraft in John Carter of Mars.

DARPA has been working on fixed wing aircraft using solar power for quite some time.


(DARPA Vulture - aircraft with a 5 year flight plan)

Helios is an ultralight flying wing with 14 electric motors built by AeroVironment Inc. Helios' 247-foot wingspan exceeds that of a Boeing 747. Operating entirely under solar power (including the take-off), Helios reached an altitude just short of 100,000 feet, which broke records for non-rocket powered flight.


(Helios above Kauai, Hawaii)

In his 1930 novel The Black Star Passes, sf great John W. Campbell writes about an aircraft powered by solar power:

"Dad, I believe that you have been trying to develop a successful solar engine. One that could be placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface..."
(Read more about Campbell's solar-powered aircraft)

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