ESA tests drone to explore Martian caves

For the exploration of Mars, participants in the first Martian missions will actively use various automatic vehicles, and the presence of the atmosphere suggests that among them there will be flying drones.

In this regard, the European Space Agency (ESA) conducted a series of tests of a line of equipment for exploring Martian caves and narrow lava tubes, which are impossible for humans to penetrate.

Every year ESA holds an event called CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behavior and performance Skills), which translates as “a joint adventure to assess and train professional skills”. The aim of the course is to teach astronauts to act as part of a team to solve common problems, as well as learn how to live and work in the confined space of a cave.

The Flyability Elios drone model won the 2015 Drones for Good award and was used last year to explore the jagged ravines in the Alps. Now is the time to explore the Sicilian depths. The drone is equipped with a special spherical protective frame - the car deliberately beats against walls and protrusions, maneuvering in three-dimensional space, in order to personally check where you can get through and where not.

The drone is equipped with a thermal camera, with which researchers analyze the structure of the caves. This is not the best option, but the goal of the CAVES project is precisely to test different technologies for mapping underground space. And take only the best and most reliable to Mars - scientists know how lava tubes are arranged on Earth, but beyond its borders, various surprises are likely to await us.

The first positive result was obtained - the drone helped to make a map of the La Cucciara cave in an area where no man had ever penetrated.