A systems engineering approach to the conceptual design of a martian UAV

Kyle Tsai, Parul Chadha, Steven J. D’Urso, Harry H. Hilton

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


A special project group formed in 2014 at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign performed systems engineering study of the potential application of an unmanned aerial vehicle to augment the exploration capabilities of land-based Martian vehicles. This group worked under the guidance of members of NASA’s Human Exploration team at Johnson Space Center. The suggested study is a follow up to the Mars surface systems study [3]. The systems engineering approach used to achieve a conceptual design of its configuration and operations is documented in the report, A Conceptual Design of a Martian UAV [1] and is summarized in this paper. Total systems contexts were explored and defined using mission objectives and vignettes inspired by the three science mission areas prescribed in the Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0 (DRA 5.0): surface mapping, atmospheric, and biological investigations. Systems level capability requirements were derived from operational ranges and covereages defined by recommended surface landing sites in DRA 5.0. Mission systems, navigation, avionic, power and propulsion systems architectures were allocated, and the air vehicle configuration candidates selected. Atmospheric modeling for performance and risk assessments were some of the discriminators used in the down selection process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA)
ISBN (Print)9781624103933
StatePublished - 2016
Event54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 2016 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Jan 4 2016Jan 8 2016

Publication series

Name54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting


Other54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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