What is Sunstratos?
Sheffield University Stratosphere Programme (SunStratos) is a student-led research group within the University of Sheffield. We focus on developing vehicles that utilise the upper layers of the atmosphere to aid in the innovation of future aircraft.
All Mars landers utilize dead-weight balance masses to regulate their descent through the Martian atmosphere. With Mars launches going for anywhere between $1 and $3 billion each, it is absolutely important to squeeze every ounce of value out of each mission. As these dead-weight balance masses do not collect data or perform any useful high-tech function, these balances masses inefficiently take up space which could be used to perform high-tech functions alongside their duty of descent control. To this end, our mission is to design a smart balance mass composing of a glider capable of data-collection and flight in the Martian atmosphere and a capsule to house it to maximise the return value for each and every Mars mission.