Our idea is to create low cost alternative to low-orbit Mars satellites - buoyant drone ecosystem(s). Each such ecosystem is made up of 5 drones, including one central processing drone, assisted by 4 axillary drones (one central drone connected to multiple axillary drones). These drones will utilize the existing network of satellites and ground stations on Mars for sending information back to earth.

This project is solving the ZERO GEE Bee – Your Friendly Neighborhood Drone challenge.


We are using the following sponsor provided support: 1. Intel Edison Arduino Board 2. IBM BlueMix 3. Microsoft Surface for designing the concept art

The drone ecosystem will contain multiple sensing units - IR, Thermal, Visible Range Cameras, Radar/Sonar Mapping, Laser Based Altimeter, Barometric Pressure Gauge, Gas Assay systems, etc. Each drone would also act as a distributed computing unit.

Think of each of these drone ecosystems, buoyed with the help of hydrogen/helium balloons, as foot soldiers to conduct near surface reconnaissance. Once a region of interest is specified by existing NASA (or non-NASA) Mars orbiter, the drones can be mobilized to do quick surveillance. Mobility inside specified geographic regions can be increased dramatically.

Benefits over existing exploratory missions: 1. Cost of deployment - much lower than planning a full blown satellite 2. Speed - much faster, higher coverage per day than rovers/ground stations 3. Buoyancy - primarily eradicates the issue of flight length. The balloons will provide all the lift required, and the solar energy harnessed through solar cells (on surface of balloons, solar panels) will be used only for analysis, processing, and thrust when directional mobility is required.

More to follow.

Project Information

License: GNU Affero General Public License 3.0 (AGPL-3.0)"

Source Code/Project URL:



  • Chetan Dhadankar
  • Ruchin Mandiwala
  • Prayag Pathak