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Thread: International Mars Sample Return Mission

  1. #1 International Mars Sample Return Mission 
    Time Lord
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    So we're going to fetch Martian soil samples to Earth. Hopefully in ten years time. This will be a fairly large joint effort. Many samples are wanted, from different sites.

    We're just brainstorming now.

    Here's one potential plan (pdf): Report of the International Mars Architecture for the Return of Samples (iMARS) Working Group June 1, 2008

    I thought this perhaps overly complex, like, are so many stages of rovers & robots really necessary, when the object of this particular mission is only to return small samples from far flung sites. The plan also depends on new technology developments that require "substantive effort at least 10 years before launch of the flight segment".

    I wonder if anybody can think of a simpler means.


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  3. #2 Re: International Mars Sample Return Mission 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    So we're going to fetch Martian soil samples to Earth. Hopefully in ten years time. This will be a fairly large joint effort. Many samples are wanted, from different sites.

    We're just brainstorming now.

    Here's one potential plan (pdf): Report of the International Mars Architecture for the Return of Samples (iMARS) Working Group June 1, 2008

    I thought this perhaps overly complex, like, are so many stages of rovers & robots really necessary, when the object of this particular mission is only to return small samples from far flung sites. The plan also depends on new technology developments that require "substantive effort at least 10 years before launch of the flight segment".

    I wonder if anybody can think of a simpler means.
    It looks pretty straight-forward to me. It looks like its designed to give the maximum bang for your fuel/reaction mass buck.


    "Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feelings for the strength of their argument.
    The heated mind resents the chill touch & relentless scrutiny of logic"-W.E. Gladstone


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  4. #3  
    Time Lord
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    The report only gives an obvious example, because we've yet to think of better ways. Now is the time to come up with better ways, perhaps radical ones. :-D
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  5. #4  
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    Why have we not landed on the northern ice cap yet (or have we?)? That should be one of the primary goals of the next mission to Mars. Not only could amazing pictures be taken, but we could melt the ice using solar panels and sunlight collectors on a stationary power station in order to extract H and O for fuel. With this fuel, we could make a flying Mars rover that could go to far away destinations quickly, and come back for more fuel. We could also leave a satellite in orbit that would collect very large amounts of solar energy (through a larger than normal photovoltaic array) and beam the energy down in the form of microwave radiation to the rover so that it could travel even farther. As for the rover's solar panels, why not have windshield wipers? They could use a special pad that when vibrated at a high frequency releases all of the dust away from the rover, leaving the panels much cleaner than before.

    Are there any large deposits of aluminum on the surface? I'm not sure if this would be energy efficient, but seeing all of the iron oxide on the surface, we could make a thermite reaction and use the heat and light for energy. The only problem would be turning the aluminum into a powder, which I believe is necessary.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

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  6. #5  
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    Interesting ideas Cold Fusion. Though, for this particular mission's objectives, I'm unsure we really need a lot of power or roving capability. Actually, this already struck me as a probable assumption that could make the mission exponentially complex... why I'm searching for the most expedient solution. The object is not to drive robots around. All we want is sample return. How can we accomplish this most directly, cheaply, and safely, like, with the least components and moving/failure-prone parts?

    I don't know why an icecap wasn't listed as destination. I'd think shallow and deep samples from a cap worthwhile. The mission will likely call for multiple vehicles, each aiming for different prizes.

    Here's a list distilled from requests:

    • Sedimentary materials rock suite
    • Hydrothermal rock suite
    • Low-temperature altered rock suite
    • Igneous rock suite
    • Regolith
    • Atmospheric gas
    • Dust
    • Depth-resolved suite
    • Other samples of opportunity

    A "suite" means at least half a dozen isolated samples, at least a few grams each, not badly mashed by handling. It would be nice to get some from a few meters depth (and I personally feel we're more likely to find life there). It would be nice to get larger samples and more of them.

    If we make smaller simpler landers then probably we can send more.
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  7. #6  
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    accomplish this most directly, cheaply, and safely, like, with the least components and moving/failure-prone parts
    Sending one super rover would likely be less expensive than sending 5 cheap ones.

    The more rovers, the more parts. 1 with double the parts of the others in better than sending 5 of the cheaper ones.

    The current rovers move at a speed that should be expected of a $500 Lego mind storm kit. If we use one, then speed must be high on the priority list, otherwise we cannot visit that many sites and collect enough unique samples. On the ground we are limited due to the terrain. If you were to run something even double the size of the current one at 20mph, it would likely fall over at some point and fail. As for flying, using an electric motor and propellers is a bad idea. Not only can the motors fail at high speeds, but they would also suck up a tremendous amount of energy. This of course could be combated if we beam radiation at it, but there are other problems such as the thin atmosphere. Flying the rover at even ground level would be like flying it thousands of feet high over here. The reaction would be similar to trying to take an RC helicopter to 5,000 feet. So, we need power not as much for 200mph+ speed, but just so that it can travel reasonably fast and stay up in the atmosphere. Using rocket fuel (H+O) is ideal because of the larger amount of energy stored per volume, the sheer power output when needed (to get away from a dust storm) and the fact that there is almost nothing that can fail. No moving parts, nothing to break. And it could be refueled in a matter of minutes rather than charged in hours.

    We need to be more ambitious with our engineering. The people at NASA need to be doing what our architects and structural engineers are doing with buildings.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

    -Einstein

    http://boinc.berkeley.edu/download.php

    Use your computing strength for science!
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  8. #7  
    Time Lord
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    Bluntly: I doubt rovers of any kind serve the mission objective.

    The preferred sample sites are scattered around the planet.

    It would be nice to take landscape pictures but any shots besides "pre-core" and "in the hole" are beside the point.
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  9. #8  
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    I agree, but at least we can try our best.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

    -Einstein

    http://boinc.berkeley.edu/download.php

    Use your computing strength for science!
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