MONTREAL - A Montreal university scientist took to the skies over Ottawa last month to recreate the gravity of Mars for a future unmanned mission.

Any visit to Mars involves trying to master its gravity, which is only one-third that of Earth and something that is difficult to replicate accurately.

But Concordia researcher Krzysztof (Chris) Skonieczny was able to do so -- albeit very briefly -- in early March.

His science mission was carried out with the help of a modified Falcon 20 jet, a small sandbox filled with simulated Martian soil and a prototype rover wheel.

Skonieczny and his National Resarch Council team wanted to see how the ExoMars rover mission in 2020 would be affected by the low gravity.

The Canadian-funded experiment took place during three days of what were described as roller-coaster rides.