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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.

DFRC Photo # Photo Date Image Description
  Skip links in main table Mini-Sniffer Photo Collection Contact Sheet
ECN-4898 1976 Mini-Sniffer II in flight
EC76-6242 1976 Mini-Sniffer III on lakebed
ECN-6134 1976 Mini-Sniffer III on lakebed with ground support crew
ECN-4206 1974 Mini-Sniffer on lakebed

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-Snuffer 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. The Mini-Sniffer flights were made over a period from 1975 to 1982.

Last Modified: October 31, 1996
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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