In the near future is likely to be launched first Martian helicopter, but will it be the sense of it, if the machine goes down? After all, it exists in a single copy. Now scientists are looking for possible alternative to costly and resource-intensive units – so on light there was a fleet of tiny and cheap “nanocasting airplanes”.

In fact, developed at the University of Pennsylvania small, flat, rectangular device is not made of cardboard. They represent a plate of aluminum oxide, dotted with groups of slit-like microchannels. This design provides them the resistance to bending prevents the propagation of cracks and gives a structure really similar to corrugated cardboard.

It is this structure that allows you to “airplanes” to fly. When the upper surface of the plate heats up upon exposure to bright light, the temperature difference between the illuminated and the shaded bottom side is provoking the retraction of the air and open-top channels, and pushing it through the bends at the bottom. This creates an air cushion under the “airplane”, raising it above the ground.

Each device weighs “about as fruit fly”, although the thin Martian atmosphere and weak gravity should theoretically allow them to carry additional live loads 10 times their own weight. At the moment, scientists are working to develop miniature chemical sensors that could be installed on buildings “airplanes”. In the future it will provide an opportunity to manage them by using lasers mounted on ground-based Martian Rovers.
Source — University of Pennsylvania