Energetics of rotary-wing exploration of Titan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

25 Scopus citations


Rotary-wing vehicles have the potential to enable exploration of Titan at scales ranging from hundreds of kilometers to millimeters. This paper examines the flight power demands of multi-rotor vehicles (e.g. quadcopters or co-axial helicopters), considering both hover and forward flight. Specifically, this paper examines power demands of a small (1 kg) co-axial helicopter as well as a larger (350 kg) multi-rotor vehicle. In both cases the power requirements are well within the capabilities of current batteries and electric motors: the 350 kg vehicle requires 1.87 kW aerodynamic power for hover and 1.32 kW aerodynamic power for cruise at an airspeed of 9.5 m/s; the 1 kg vehicle requires 3.63 W aerodynamic power for hover and 3.17 W aerodynamic power to cruise at 4 m/s. Energy requirements of the 1 kg vehicle are driven mainly by thermal management and power required by avionics: this has a significant influence on range, endurance, and optimal flight speeds. The flight performance characteristics of both vehicles are capable of fulfilling meaningful scientific goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781509016136
StatePublished - Jun 7 2017
Event2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2017 - Big Sky, United States
Duration: Mar 4 2017Mar 11 2017

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Other2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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