LPL Associate Professor Christopher Hamilton is spearheading the RAVEN Project, a NASA-funded endeavor to develop the next generation of drones capable of exploring alien worlds like Mars. The project is currently testing prototypes over the Mars-like volcanic terrain of Iceland, and will follow in the footsteps of the Mars 2020 Mission – the first ever demonstration of a rover-drone pairing on another planet, with the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity drone.
February has been a busy month on Mars. The planet is being visited by three missions from three different countries - the hope craft, launched by the United Arab Emirates and China's Tianwen-1 recently entered mars’ orbit. And the US's “Mars 2020” craft, with its innovative cargo of the first made-for-mars helicopter, touched down on the red planet just last week. The University of Arizona is no stranger to the red planet, having led NASA’S Phoenix Mars Mission launched in 2007. That legacy continues as NASA recently awarded a three million dollar grant to a UArizona-led project to develop a drone that could help explore previously inaccessible regions on Mars. Technology a team of scientists and engineers are now testing in Iceland.