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Mini-Sniffer on Rogers Dry Lake

Preflight and takeoff of Mini-Sniffer remotely controlled, propeller-driven vehicle

Movie Number   EM-0061-01
Movie Date   circa 1976
Formats   160x120 QuickTime Movie (1.3 MB)
320x240 QuickTime Movie (4 MB)
480x360 QuickTime Movie (3.5 MB)
640x480 QuickTime Movie (6.7 MB)
M2-F3 Still photos of this aircraft are available in several resolutions at

This 37 second movie shows pre-flight and takeoff of the Mini-Sniffer remotely controlled, propeller-driven vehicle.

The Mini-Sniffer was a remotely controlled, propeller-driven vehicle developed at NASA Dryden Research Center to sample the upper atmosphere for pollution. The Mini-Sniffer represents one of the earliest attempts by NASA to monitor the earth's atmosphere at high altitudes and was also considered for planetary atmospheric sampling flights over Mars. There were three Mini-Sniffers built. The original Mini-Sniffer was propelled by a small air-breathing engine, while a later version employed a non-airbreathing hydrazine engine for higher altitude capabilities. A large propeller was also employed because of its effectiveness in the thin upper atmosphere.

Additional Information

The number I aircraft had swept wings with a span of 18 feet, wing rudders, and forward canards on the nose. Twelve flights were made with the gas powered number I craft at low altitudes around 2500 feet above ground level. The number I craft was modified into version II by removing the canards and wing rudders, then adding wing tips and tail booms. Twenty-one flights were made to 20,000 feet with this modified 22 foot wing configuration. The number III vehicle had a longer fuselage, was lighter in weight, was similar in shape to the number II, and was powered by adding the non-airbreathing hydrazine engine. The number III Mini-Sniffer was designed to fly a 25 pound payload to 70,000 feet for one hour or to climb to 90,000 feet and glide back. The Mini-Snuffer III made one flight to 20,000 feet and was not flown again due to a hydrazine leak problem.

Keywords   Mini-Sniffer, remotely controlled, propeller-driven, vehicle
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