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Publication Date

Fall 2011

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Nikos Mourtos


Aircraft, Solar, UAV

Subject Areas

Aerospace engineering; Mechanical engineering


This thesis reports on a conceptual design of a solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a mass no more than 10 kg. This UAV will have the necessary equipment to study wildfires in California, including a Global Positioning System (GPS) and infrared cameras. Using similar aircraft in the same weight class, the geometry of the aircraft was calculated. A weight analysis and a power sensitivity analysis indicated that this aircraft will generate 350 W of power, 114.6 W greater than the power available to fly. A stability and controls analysis was also done, and the required tail area needed for stability was calculated. Using XFLR5, which is a software package that studies aerodynamic properties, a drag polar estimate was calculated and compared with basic aircraft design methods to verify the accuracy of the results.