Hunter Dunne

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

David Brian Landrum

Committee Member

Chang-kwon Kang

Committee Member

Bryan Mesmer


Micro air vehicles--Design and construction., Wings (Anatomy)--Aerodynamics., Mars (Planet)--Exploration.


The Marsbee is a novel bioinspired flapping flight vehicle concept for aerial Martian exploration. The Marsbee design addresses the challenges of flying on Mars by mimicking the unsteady lift generation mechanisms seen in terrestrial insects. To enable the comparison of the Marsbee system to other flying Martian exploration concepts, a systems-based analyzer was created, consisting of several physics-based models. Constraints were used to maintain dynamic similarity between the Marsbee and insects on Earth. The current analyzer only models hovering flight. The functionality of the analyzer was demonstrated by analyzing 2 million randomly generated two-wing and 2 million randomly generated four-wing vehicle designs. These 4 million vehicles were vetted to separate the infeasible (designs that violated model constraints or minimum performance requirements) from the feasible solutions. Based on an objective function of maximizing both flight time and payload mass, the best vehicles were selected from the pseudo Pareto front. The results showed that wing flexibility had a large impact on the performance of the vehicle, increasing the number of feasible vehicles as flexibility increased. Although not simultaneously achievable, the fully flexible two-wing vehicle designs on the pseudo Pareto front had an average flight time of 50 minutes and carried an average payload of 322 grams. Inertial pitching power for the Marsbee was magnitudes higher than inertial flapping power, which is opposite of insects. The inertial pitching power was so dominant that flapping flight appears impractical for missions on Mars without passively pitching wings. Increasing from two wings to four wings nearly doubled the payload mass while only slightly decreasing the flight times. This study lays the groundwork for future optimization of the Marsbee system.



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