Colorado Companies Developing Aircraft For Improved Investigation Of Mars

October 27, 2015 – Ascent Solar Technologies is working closely with Bye Aerospace to develop a unique aircraft to fill the gap between mapping and surveillance of Mars from orbital satellites and ground-based rovers.

The aircraft, known as the Mars SOLESA (solar electric survey aircraft), is a unique approach taken by Bye Aerospace allowing for closer investigation of the Martian surface with greater resolution and flexibility than the orbital satellites currently operating above the surface, but with far greater range and perspective than rovers. In conjunction with solar power provided by Ascent Solar, the Mars SOLESA concept will enable the vehicle to fly through the Martian atmosphere, gathering pertinent and novel data along the way.

Ascent Solar PV enables day-time recharging of the SOLESA batteries. The fresh charge allows multiple series of flights. Special rugged landing gear, combined with cutting edge ground sensing technology, enable autonomous landing site selection and short takeoff and landing distances. By flying at altitudes of a few hundred up to a few thousand feet above the Martian surface, the vehicle can cover more area in less time than the family of rovers currently employed on the surface, while maintaining greater resolution and perspective.

“With the advances we are making in solar-electric propulsion for manned and unmanned aircraft, the next logical step is to turn our attention to important exploration projects such as Mars SOLESA,” George Bye, CEO & Chairman of Bye Aerospace said. “We have worked with Ascent Solar on several of our innovations, and commend them for their forward vision.”

“We’ve had our eye on Mars from the beginning, from ground-based power stations to atmospheric-based operations,” said Joe Armstrong, CTO of Ascent Solar. “The development of the Mars SOLESA with Bye Aerospace matches up well with our internal development of a higher performance PV product that gives the SOLESA an impressive performance envelope. We have been working with Bye Aerospace for some time on this vehicle as it leans heavily upon both our unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) projects and is a perfect intersection of several key improvements in performance that are in process.”

Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. of Thornton, Colorado is a developer of thin-film photovoltaic modules using flexible substrate materials that can transform the way solar power generation integrates into everyday life, on this planet and others as well. Ascent Solar modules were named as one of the top 100 technologies in 2010 by R&D Magazine, and one of TIME Magazine’s 50 best inventions for 2011. Fully integrated portable PV power solutions have been named as finalists for the R&D Magazine Top 100 technologies in 2015.

Bye Aerospace, founded in 2007 and headquartered near Denver, is applying clean energy solutions to innovative aircraft designs for the general aviation and defense markets.