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Sunday, July 31, 2005

New Article: Martian Aircraft

A blimp on Mars.
A blimp on Mars.
Credit: Jason Archer
The challenges of moving around on Mars have been overlooked by many colonization aficionados. Mars has a varied terrain, more difficult and rugged than any other body in the solar system. And worst of all, no one really knows it. To build roads and rails on the surface we must have an exact understanding of the terrain, to a degree greater than satellites can provide.

Steven Wintergerst believes that blimps can be used to survey the surface before roads are even planned. His article, Martian Aircraft explains it all. Here's a snippet:

On earth, virtually all road systems follow the paths of old trails. Old trails follow the paths of older trails, which follow the paths of animals, or natural stream beds, or the wanderings of near insane explorers who just ambled across a desert thinking “Well, I guess there must be something else thataway...”

What is needed is a fuel efficient way to get slightly above the ground, and not move around too fast. Slow speed travel close to the ground is generally safer anyway, and it will allow humans more time to use their discerning eyes. One possibility would be a lighter-than air craft. There are three basic types of lighter than air crafts: Balloons, blimps, and dirigibles.

- posted by Alex @ 14:15 EST