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Concordia researchers use zero-gravity flight to study conditions on Mars

Concordia researchers use zero-gravity flight to study conditions on Mars
From CBC - April 17, 2018

KrzysztofSkoniecznycan laugh now, while reliving last month's rollercoaster-like rideaboard a Falcon 20 jet, even if it was not always pretty.

"They call these types of aircraft'vomit comets' and for good reason,"said Skonieczny, an associate professor atConcordia University's Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.

"You get that rising feeling in your stomach."

But packing a few barf bags was a small price to pay when attempting torecreate Martian gravity here on Earth.

Skoniecznyand afew of his students were aboard the Falcon 20 aircraftwhen it performed a series of adrenaline-rushing parabolic arcs, three kilometres in height, above the national capital region.

It may have looked like aTop Gun audition, butthe tricky moves were designed to imitate a Martian atmosphere aboard the plane while a rover wheel prototype was observed.

The machine was placed insandbox filled with simulated Martian soil during the experiment.

Skonieczny's team monitored how well the wheel movedon the simulated soil in the zero gravity conditions,in hopes of getting a better idea how the ExoMars rover will manoeuvreon the Red Planetwhose gravitational pull is one-third of the Earth'sduring its mission in 2020.

During the mid-air experiment, thewindows of opportunity to collect data was narrow.

Experiment inspired by failed NASAmission

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