ExoMars by Bertina Mulder

On 12 March 2020, ESA and Roscosmos announced the postponement of the launch of the ExoMars rover…

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Launch ExoMars rover postponed to 2022

‘Launching in 2020 had a big risk: we had not finished testing, we might have lost the mission’

Bertina Mulder, 26 March 2020

On 12 March 2020, ESA and Roscosmos announced the postponement of the launch of the ExoMars rover ‘Rosalind Franklin’ to 2022. This meant, again, having to wait another two years, until Earth and Mars would again be in a favourable orbital position. The primary goal of the ExoMars mission is to determine if there has ever been life on Mars, and to better understand the history of water on the planet. The delay of the launch was a big disappointment for all the global fans of space flight and Mars missions, but we can only imagine how devastating it must have been for the people who work so hard on this project. Why was it necessary? Was it caused by the coronacrisis that hit our world? I asked dr. Jorge L. Vago, Project Scientist at ESA’s ExoMars, who works on this project since 2002.

‘In all fairness,’ he says, ‘we knew it would be very difficult to make it. Although the spacecraft was complete, we had run out of sufficient time to test and debug the software and avionics. This was tough for all of us. I work already 20 years on ExoMars, so you can imagine how much I want this mission to go. However, we had a project meeting and all agreed on the same conclusion: Precisely because we have put so much effort, and also because the search for signs of life is such an interesting objective, it was fundamental to ensure that the mission would succeed. Another two years would give us the time to finish things well. Conversely, launching in 2020 without having completed the systems verification implied taking a big risk. We might lose the mission.’

And of course, we all understand, that is the last thing anyone wants to happen.

Jorge Vago explains: ‘A landed rover mission is so much more complicated than a satellite. We need avionics and software for launch, for cruise, for entry, descent and landing, for rover egress and navigation. There are so many permutations and operations that have to be checked.’

Not only the complexity of the work was very demanding, also the time and effort the team members had to put in it.

‘The teams had been working on triple shift, so 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, since March 2019,’ says Vago. ‘Unfortunately, it was not enough. There was a lot of progress, but we could see that due to unforeseen little issues – as we have on all missions – we were falling back 25 days of schedule per every 100 days of progress. In other words, it would take us 125 days to complete what we had budgeted 100 days for. Around February 2020, we realised we would not make it.’

Time for a well-deserved rest for the teams? No, with ExoMars’ troubled history, this project team has had to learn to adapt and keep on going.

Jorge Vago: ‘We decided we would forge on: advance all the work as much as possible to ensure we could finish everything within this year, while replanning for the 2022 launch and trajectory. But then… the coronavirus hit.’

By now almost everyone around the world knows how much the coronavirus has impacted our lives, jobs and businesses. Jorge Vago sketches what the measures meant for the European ExoMars project.

‘The mission’s prime contractor is TAS-I, located in Torino (ITA). The spacecraft was in Cannes (FR) for final tests. But the Italian and Russian engineers could no longer travel to France. We had to see what it was that we could do now, and what would have to be postponed. We decided to ship the rover back to Torino. At this moment TAS-I is closed and everyone is working from home, so the rover is sleeping in its transport container, with its keep-alive system on, waiting to be unpacked and brought into the clean room.’ He explains his new daily routine: ‘Work goes on. By email. We are planning how and when to perform the remaining activities, which include corrections and repairs to some elements that we will now have the time to carry out.’ Vago gives some examples: ‘We need to reinforce the hinges in the rover’s solar panels, that had experienced some problems. We also want to do a vacuum bakeout of the rover to reduce the organic molecule background and make sure we can keep it chemically clean for its mission. The big question is when we will be able to go back into the clean rooms to work on the spacecraft. Hopefully in a couple of months.’

It is clear that space projects like ExoMars need highly motivated scientists, engineers and technicians who can deal with disappointments. And also, leaders who can make hard decisions which may go against what we would want to happen now, instead of in 2022: send the Rosalind Franklin to Mars and search for signs of life.

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Training and Medical Check

What type of training should the astronauts go through ? What are the health criteria for an astronaut…

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Introduction

For any endeavour beyond our home called Earth to a land similar to ours in ways to sustain a future civilization, would require mission preparedness through extensive training and knowledge of challenges astronauts could be exposed to during the flight and on the red planet. Isolation is one the key challenges any long duration spaceflight encounters, and especially with crew on an almost year long Mars mission will face human factors and psychological challenges. Humans adhere to rapid adaptation and thriving successfully on Earth courtesy of that behaviour. But when we are unable to access that environment, we feel isolated. In order to overcome these issues, competence in operational communication skills through scenario-based simulations, classes, and practice would provide a strong foundation. Apart from isolation alleviation, another key metric for a successful mission is to be in good health. For that, astronauts will undergo extensive medical training in order to check for symptoms and treat minor health and critical diseases on the voyage to the red planet.

The expansion of the role of psychology in human space flight can help to resolve environmental design challenges and group performance to the core. Isolation and group confinement at times leads to serious consequences such as sleep disturbances, somatic complaints, heart palpitations and anxiety. While it’s not all negative as spaceflight does offer a sense of accomplishment, opportunities for psychological growth and development as a result of requisite training. 

Contemplating the effect of human spaceflight lasting for a period of 6 months and beyond as would be the case for a mission to Mars, the daily life inside the spacecraft and operational capabilities will be affected by space radiation environment, isolation from family due to reduced communication and interaction with fellow crew members on a daily basis. An essential understanding of the success and limitation of these different factors would lead to the accomplishment of what can be called “A Exploratory Mars Mission”.

For a typical mission to the red planet, medical training holds key importance accompanied by technical training, personal and social training and group training.

Chapter 1: Personal & Social Training

Personal and social training falls under the category of the Human Factors. Psychological issues associated with a round trip to human piloted mars mission are unique and require a pragmatic approach in order to make it a safe ride. Microstiuli challenges can rapidly grow into macro over a short period of time whether it’s the noise of a crew clearing the throat or sneezing every couple of minutes or frustrations arising out of disconnected ground station support. Utilizing different work schedules for every crew member and mixing up things such as using inflatable chairs, sharing arts, and reorganizing shelves could be some of the environment changing ways to reduce isolation. The most essential training or rather the single point focus on “Remembering the Purpose” of why you are here is the best mind training of any kind. Expanding on that, there are some ideas which could be utilized by the crew for understanding themselves and their fellow marsonauts. Marsonatus will be living and working in challenging environments where they would need to endure multiple stressors.

Unlike hardware testing, robust training for human teams in particular is a dynamic behavioural analysis endeavour, which requires development of reliable protocols to monitor different parameters involving sociological, psychological and physiological factors interacting with the environment and other humans. Frequency increase of multinational and multicultural crew members in a long duration mission can attime be a boon and bust with the added complexity. 

The training methodologies suggested are a combination of diverse factors taking into consideration the possible scenarios that could be encountered in a long duration Mars mission.  There is no single best method and as each method has its own merits and weakness, the combination serves the best purpose. 

Crew Selection Training

The requisite training could be initiated by keeping astronauts in isolation for a certain period of time ranging from 3-6 months in an unknown isolated location without any contact with fellow humanoids and family members. At present, the Mars Society conducts two weeks sims for volunteers from different parts of the world at MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station), Utah. A similar approach with extended period of social distancing and restricted travelling (as would happen during voyage to Mars) would be a good training exercise for acclimatization. It would subject the astronauts to a strenuous environment and test their core strength. Reduced psychological assistance from earth through long distance communication could help in dreadful scenarios. Hence, psychological and physiological factors are of significant importance. Long duration analog missions at FMARS (Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station) can be helpful for understanding the behaviour  of crew when on Mars on exposure to climatic extremes and cold temperatures with isolation and closed environment and reduced sunlight. 

Astronauts selected for this preliminary mission could be chosen from those who have worked on ISS in the past. A more detailed psychological analysis, one different from the astronaut selection process by NASA could help in choosing the ones with inherent ability to cope with such situations. Controlled studies in simulated environments in the past have shown instances of reduced energy levels, mood swings, faulty decision making, poor interpersonal relations and lapses in memory. 

Diversity of Crew

While being in isolation with voice contact with just different crew members and 24 minute delayed communication with the ground station/family, a diverse background of experience and life learnings can address any concerns of stress could seriously harm and negatively impact the individual or the crew or serious consequences for accomplishing mission objectives or jeopardizing these mission altogether. The magnitude of stressors arising from psychological and biological reasons will vary based on the different phases of flight and mission but a cumulative effect can hamper mission objectives.  

As here on earth, we humans need people from diverse backgrounds to build a successful organization, the same fundamentals would be rudimentary elements for achieving the goals set for a mission to the red planet. Crew members should be selected from a group of pilots, engineers, biologists, chemists, artists, graduate students, writers who all could be trained and meet the stringent requirements as required by any space agency or private company ferrying the crew to Mars. There should be a single communication language during the entire journey irrespective of nationality for a multinational crew. This shall be beneficial in avoiding any inconvenience or potential crisis issue. During the analog long duration mission, this should be a part of the mission accomplishment criteria. In an emergency scenario, a language should be the last thing that a crew has to overcome. 

Human Factors

NASA Human Research Program Integrated Research Plan 2018 document outlines that addressing the risk of inadequate nutrition during crewed exploration missions to Mars would be critical to mission success. In the confined spacecraft environment, crew members could be in a situation of lacking essential food nutrients either due to strict food consumption plans or chemical instability of food or repetition of food cycles which could lead to reduced intake and inadequate nutrition. Prior exposure and training for an extended period of time could develop skills for adaptation to those scenarios. NASA funded research by University of Hawaii in 2016 completed a 365 day isolation experiment to evaluate impact on humans. Future studies could be performed with repetitive diets and varied nutrition for crew adaptation to similar environments during martian voyage. A good sample size with a diverse group of crew members and one year simulated environment could provide a better understanding of any potential health hazards, nutrient deficiencies, stress related metabolism degradation.  

Another essential part of human factors post flight is to understand what could help the crew in feeling better during the course of the journey. It could be extensive communication in the form of calls from people from ground support, surprise calls from their favorite celebrities and behavioural analysis calls with health clinicians. 

Chapter 2: Technical Training 

Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer to lead the first South Pole expedition had quoted these famous words “The human factor is three quarters of any expedition”. 

G-forces stimulation 

To be “G Fit”, crew members will undergo centrifuge based flight training each month to practice and improve their technique. G training has been significantly improved and positively impacted flight safety. The centrifuge is able to re-create the exact G force loads experienced by the crew during the spaceflight. Flight loads of 8g – 9g can be handled by wearing anti-G suits. Anti-G outfits use air bladders to constrict the legs and abdomen during the high G ‘s to keep blood in the upper body. At NASA’s 20G research centrifuge at Ames Research Center in California’s , it can simulate upto 20 times the force of gravity at sea level. Humans can definitely survive high G forces for very brief periods.  

Different centrifuge radii can have performance effects on entry tasks for marsonauts. Two inherent artifacts, namely, Acceleration gradient and Coriolois acceleration need to be considered when using a centrifuge of finite radius. Group of crews can be simulated in centrifuge being exposed to initial values of 2.5G – 3.5G for fifteen seconds duration and slowly the time span is increased to measure the resilience of the crew members. Slowly the G’s are ramped up to 6G-7G for fifteen seconds. The behaviour and handling of circumstances provides an insight into the preparedness of the crew. Another easier way is to dawn a spacesuit and head for G maneuvers in fighter planes. 

Microgravity Operation

Microgravity is a condition in which people or objects appear to be weightless. In order to ensure marsonauts can stay healthy during the Martian voyage, microgravity training would be essential. Although, the “How” section of the project talks about the creation of artificial gravity but from a worst case perspective, it’s always better to be over prepared than under prepared as the space environment is unforgiving. 

Although the human body can adapt to microgravity quickly but exposure to it for a period of  nine months to a year can have long term impacts, especially on the cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, visual acuity, orientation and balance. The spacecraft common space must have machines for full-body workout such as Advanced Body Workout Device. From lifting dumbbells to squats, deadlifts and running are some of the essential exercises which must be executed by the crew for at least 5-7 hours with required breaks. 

Brain Analysis using Neuralink & Facial Analysis 

As described in Chapter 1, the human factors criteria has a significant role in mission completion and avoids any catastrophic scenario on long duration spaceflight. One way to analyze what happens inside the mind of crew is to utilize minimally intrusive techniques in order to implant a chip inside the brain of the crew member and download information only related to negative thoughts such as depression or loneliness. This could help escalate issues and address them by creating a pulse to negate the effect. Neuralink’s chip could be used in reversing long term vision or other sensory deficiencies and hence marsonauts with chips could already be avoiding these issues through non-invasive surgeries. 

A second approach could be to monitor cognitive  functioning through computer analysis of speech. This could be done by self monitoring via computer on-board spacecraft and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) programmed to measure attention span, information processing, and recall. Sometimes as it could be difficult to figure out what a crew member is trying to convey, a PDA or computer quick help in the real time analysis and the issue can be addressed. 

SpaceWalk & Operational Training

Training for spacewalks or EVA as we know it, is one the toughest duties to be performed by astronauts. Decompression thickness and musculoskeletal disorders are the most prominent hazards from spacewalking and can be harmful for long term.  EVA readiness and testing training will be a key part of the mission to Mars. Some of the challenges faced by crew in reduced gravity walking as stated as : 

  1. Reduced visibility due to changes in illumination, contrast, and field of view. 
  2. Reduced sense of orientation due to changes in vestibular stimulation. 
  3. Reduced range of motion due to limitation of the extravehicular mobility unit (EMU). 
  4. Compromised strength due to fatigue 

The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) and Space Vehicles Mockup Facility (SVMF) at Johnson Space Center serve as training grounds for spacewalks. Data from different spacewalks and training facilities can help develop a model to fine tune parameters and be more thoroughly prepared for spacewalks. Handling instruments during fixing of issues in space or on the vehicle would need better coordination during the handling phase and all the training can come in handy. 

Chapter 3: Group Training

Teamwork is successful only when a group of individuals come together as a team without their personal bias and work towards a single goal with their best effort. Any simple group task or process is not just the sum of the individuals, as complex conversations can lead to reinforcement , undermining or creation of new behaviours in the individuals involved. Elimination of self-centeredness is a necessary for success as a group. According to a NASA report titled ”Psychology of Space Exploration”, group fusion and fission are elementary variables for creating habits and work schedules and group composing which shall lead to individuals functioning as a group. Drivers of team performance decrements can be attributed at times to cross-cultural differences which can definitely be addressed through year long training missions.

Team training & Fusion

Integration of teamwork skills with individual technical expertise is a driver in performing complex tasks. Good team work skills and processes boost technical skills in mitigation of issues stemming from degradation of technical skills. Working in cohesion on solving an issue and measuring the effectiveness of the solution can provide a closed loop feedback mechanism to avoid any pitfalls. Whether it’s a small task to reorganize the spacecraft shelves or performing spacecraft maneuvers to orient the vehicle, a smooth functional group can lead to fantabulous results. It also helps in building resilience and alleviating stress. 

Team dynamics can be enhanced via support tools such as guided team debriefs. Successful conflict negotiations, planning for future actions and tasks, and shared leadership can significantly enhance mission success. Debriefs tools tested in HERA & NEEMO  missions have been demonstrated as an effective tool for ensuring that no conflict can lead to undesired consequences. Year long analog simulations with multicultural and multilingual crew in mixed groups working towards a singular goal can serve a pre-penultimate test, and the robust methodological analysis of the mission provides a better understanding of factors resulting in heated atmosphere or conflicts.    

The teamwork will be under constant monitoring and supervision to study how the crew responds to situations as a fused group or do individualism takes authority. Autonomy to act in scenarios involving a communication delay from ground stations on Earth can lead to arguments Hence, shared understanding and leadership will help in resolution of conflicts and enhance discipline to work together in addressing complex tasks.A key metric could be the frequency of interaction among the different crew members and time duration of interaction. This data would provide detailed information regarding the nature and depth of communication.

Chapter 4: Medical Checks

Medical selection exam for potential crew for the Mars mission will be the most stringent test they will have come across in their life. The main goal of this test is to find candidates who are currently healthy, have a healthy family history and can maintain themselves in a healthy state for the course of the voyage and beyond. The medical examinations are based on established standards in the following medical systems: general medicine, ears, nose, and throat, ophthalmology, pulmonology, cardiovascular system, hematology, abdomen and digestive system, endocrine and metabolic, genitourinary, musculoskeletal and orthopedics, dermatology, neurology, psychiatry and human behavior, obstetrics and gynecology, dental, infectious diseases, anthropometry, radiation exposure, nutrition, physical fitness.(NASA.gov). 

Conclusion

Astronaut training is a key aspect for missions to mars. Every aspect of the training from physiological, personal ,social and human factors holds significance to prevent negative effects from long term exposure. These trainings help in developing countermeasures and dataset for diverse sets of parameters. For a long term journey in space with the probability of uncertainty at a higher rate as compared to earth, these trainings shall serve as a sort of instruction manual and help in tackling issues. Fitness plays a key role in a successful mission and this guide would provide some directions for a routine to get accustomed to.

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How?

How will we get to Mars? How does a rocket work? Will the astronauts use a particular vehicle to explore Mars?

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HOW?

Three Mars transit vehicle scenarios are presented here: the SpaceX Starship, Victoria – a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) assembled multi-module vehicle, and a Dragon/Orion transit vehicle with a habitat in combination with a Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) and an Earth Return Vehicle (ERV) that are both previously sent to Mars. The common thread for all three scenarios is the transit vehicle begins the mission in a circular low Earth orbit with an altitude of 350 kilometres and an associated orbital velocity of 7.7 km/s. Escape velocity for each of the ships is 12.1 km/s, assuming an additional factor for course corrections. Radiation mitigation, cognitive radio and artificial intelligence are common to all three with varied artificial gravity scenarios.

 

SpaceX Starship

 

The SpaceX Starship is a methane and liquid oxygen (LOX) propellant 390-foot spacecraft with reusable first and second stages. The Starship portion is the 160-foot second stage. It is capable of lifting 150 MT to LEO and of landing with a 50 MT payload. On this mission, it will employ a crew of three to carry additional payload and 3500 kg of consumables in order to support a 3-person crew up to 3 years. The crew of three will enjoy five decks consisting of payload, consumables, command and control deck, laboratories, crew habitat and radiation protection deck.

 

Starship is refuelled in LEO by a heavy lift Falcon. Another fully fueled heavy lift Falcon, acting as a travelling fuel depot, upon leaving LEO, will join the Starship and connect via a tether. The travelling fuel depot of methane and LOX is a safety measure to lower the risk of not being able to produce methane and LOX in situ on Mars. It also serves as a counter mass for artificial gravity (AG). This ensemble will spin about a central axis to create an AG environment. Upon reaching Mars orbit, the Starship will untether from its counter mass, and deorbit to land on Mars leaving the fuel depot stage in Mars orbit. The Starship enters the Mars atmosphere at 7.5 km/s at a 60-degree entry profile, levels off horizontally bleeding off 99% of its speed aerodynamically. Upon reaching stall speed, the Starship initiates a pitch over to a supersonic retro propulsion (SRP) and rotates for a vertical landing at a site with previously sent habitats, a 10-kW power generator for fuel production, a fuel chemical reactor using Mars’ atmosphere of 95% carbon dioxide, and fuel storage.

 

Mars ascent is eventually performed upon refuelling which may be required from the journey to Mars and landing. It is assumed that the Starship will have sufficient fuel remaining to reach Mars orbit in order to reach the orbiting fuel depot stage if LOX and methane are not produced in situ.

Physiological Response to Lack of Gravity

 A mars expedition transit in zero-G and one to two years at 38% Mars gravity that of the Earth, exceeds the experience of the physiological effects of crews in Earth LEO. The Mars crew may be physiologically compromised especially with muscle loss and decreased bone density at a loss rate of 10% per 6 months. As an effect of decreased bone loss, the risk of kidney stone formation is present, not to mention the risk of bone breakage. There may be some vision deterioration which may be permanent.

Artificial gravity represents a novel and integrated approach to addressing the detrimental effects of reduced gravity on the human body for Mars transits and to overcome the accumulative effects of reduced Mars gravity. The crew on the International Space Station (ISS) exercise 13% of their waking hours to slow the deleterious effects of microgravity. Extending this protocol to a Mars transit, one may assume that 33 days of a 256-day Mars transit will be spent exercising to reduce the effects of zero-G, time which could be used for experimentation, spacecraft maintenance and mars mission preparation. The amount of exercise in zero-G will not alleviate the risk of vision deterioration as well as other effects that cannot be mediated by exercise.

 Starship Artificial Gravity System

 In order to reduce the effects of space on human physiology, it requires a holistic systems architecture approach. Only addressing the deleterious effects of zero-G in Mars transit does not accommodate the risks upon arrival, such as management of inflight zero gravity sequelae. During both the transit to Mars and the return to Earth, the mission will create a gravity environment of at least Mars equivalent 0.38g to Earth equivalent 1.0g. To generate this artificial gravity, the Starship spins about the centre of mass, tethered to a refuelling stage. The Starship is tethered nose-to-nose by a 170m non-conducting tether continuously rotating the entire complex at two revolutions per minute with a rim speed of 17.8m/sec.  The fuel tanker will remain in orbit around Mars to be tethered for artificial gravity on the return to Earth transit. The rotation speed may be increased to Earth gravity equivalent by extending the tether to 447m at 2 revolutions per minute and a rim speed of 46.8m/sec. The tether length is lengthened or shortened to meet the gravity equivalent needed and where the centre of the mass resides as a mass of the two ships vary throughout the course of the mission. 

The habitat modules’ orientation is an important consideration in their rotation radius, Coriolis force, and g-levels. Because the centrifugal acceleration varies directly with the distance from the centre of rotation, the gravity strength will vary between the spacecraft axis and the crew habitat in a radial orientation. In a radial orientation, there are large gravity gradients with tangential and transverse Coriolis effects. Crewmembers climbing up the ladder toward the vehicle’s centre of rotation will lose weight with each step. The orientation creates gravity gradients within the Starship with greater gravity force toward the end of the Starship and lesser on the nose end and tether. The comfort zone for the crew members is based on the number of revolutions per minute and the rim speed. Tangential Coriolis forces expose the crew to g-forces affecting their pseudo weight depending on the direction of motion with respect to the vehicle spin axis. Coriolis forces do not occur moving vertically between Starship levels. When climbing towards the center of rotation, the crew is pushed sideways in the direction of the Starship spin. The opposite effect is felt when climbing down the ladder between Starship levels. With a combination of AG, exercise, and pharmaceutical aids, the effects of low gravity may be greatly minimized.

Tether System

The tether is composed of a nonconducting material made of carbon nanotubes that have the highest tensile strength to weight ratio. It must be able to absorb an occasional impact from space debris and not break.

To deploy a tether to enable two ships to spin about an axis to create artificial gravity, the tether must be under constant tension. If a tether loses tension during deployment, it becomes slack and its resulting motion is unpredictable. Loss of tension allows such mishaps as the tether jamming inside the reel mechanism or becoming tangled as it deploys. To keep tension on a tether during linear deployment, constant thrust on both the Starship and the counter stage in anti-parallel directions along the tether line. This is done after the ships have left Earth LEO, and onto their interplanetary trajectory, to avoid possible impact from LEO space debris. After the tether is connected to both ships and the tether is deployed by the reel mechanism, the reaction control system thrusters are used to spin the docked system to the desired rate.

Victoria Mars Transit Spacecraft

The 256-foot-long Victoria Mars 3-person crew transit vehicle is assembled in LEO at an altitude of 350 km comprised of a Dragon/Orion crew capsule, propulsion module, folding photovoltaic arrays, folding thermal radiators for crewed areas and electronics, a centrifuge habitat, a primary communications dish, logistical stores of methane and hydrogen fuel and water, a radiation habitat, and a Mars Ascent/Descent Vehicle (MADV) docking port. The Victoria assemblage is architected to be an Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) whereby it may serve multiple and varied space missions to the Moon, asteroids, and Mars. Victoria also has an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) module that provides a life support system that controls atmospheric pressure, fire detection and suppression, oxygen levels, waste management and water supply. The ECLSS consists of two key components, the Water Recovery System (WRS) and the Oxygen Generation System (OGS). The WRS provides clean water by recycling crew urine, cabin humidity condensate and wastes.

The spacecraft’s command and control are located in a centre node module where the communications systems and other critical life support systems are controlled. For external maintenance, a Remote Manipulator System (RMS) is located on an Integrated Truss Structure rail track on Victoria, that may be deployed anywhere along the length of the spacecraft to capture, deploy and manoeuvre various payloads, modules and assist in crew external vehicular activity.

The Dragon/Orion crew capsule serves a dual purpose as an Earth ascent vehicle joining the already assembled modular spacecraft in LEO and serves as an Earth descent vehicle upon return to Earth. The MADV, single-stage methane and LOX propelled 100 MT spacecraft, has been previously sent to Mars orbit with a fuel depot stage whereby it docks with the arriving Victoria at a 500 km orbit about Mars for the 3-person crew to transport to the Mars surface while Victoria remains in Mars orbit.

 The use of the MADV affords adjustments in mission planning and allows for greater safety of early Mars surface missions as the crew can return to Victoria at almost any time if equipment issues, medical concerns, or events that could not be predicted/managed occur. This includes the ability to abort to orbit at any point during Mars entry and descent. Once undocked from Victoria, the MADV performs a deorbit burn and proceeds to perform direct Mars atmospheric entry at about 4.5 km/s. As the MADV reaches stall speed, it initiates a pitch over to an SRP attitude and performs a powered gravity turn to bleed off the remaining velocity and subsequently deploys its landing gear to land vertically. Upon return to Mars orbit, the MADV docks with Victoria and based on mission needs may remain docked with Victoria as it returns to Earth or may be undocked and positioned into a circular Mars orbit for future crews returning to Mars.

 Victoria Artificial Gravity System

The habitat modules’ orientation is an important consideration in their rotation radius, Coriolis force and g-levels. Because the centrifugal acceleration varies directly with the distance from the centre of rotation, the gravity strength will vary between the spacecraft axis and the habitat. Crew members climbing up the ladder toward the vehicle’s centre of rotation will lose weight with each step. Conversely, as crew members approach the ladder to the habitat, they can virtually “slide” down the ladder as their acceleration will increase, as well as their weight, as they approach the habitat.

The potential placement of the habitat modules, shown in Figure 1, consist of an axial, radial, and tangential orientation. All three would require a counterbalance being a mass of some kind or another habitat. The axial habitat module orientation is the most optimized for this spacecraft’s needs. It provides a minimal gravity gradient with the habitat, it has minimal Coriolis forces effects, which is an apparent deflection of a moving mass resulting in a crewmember being pushed sideways in the direction of the spin when climbing the ladder, the sleeping bunks are parallel to the spacecraft spin axis as well as workstations. However, it has a long transfer tunnel than the radial orientation. The radial orientation habitat has gravity gradients with the habitat with greater gravity force toward the end of the habitat and lesser on the end towards the axis. There may be levels within the habitat to separate the gradients placing ladders within the habitat and consuming valuable habitat space. The tangential orientation is similar to the radial orientation in that it has minimal gravity gradients and a long transfer tunnel. However, it has greater Coriolis effects.

The AG system on Victoria consists of two living habitat modules spinning about the spacecraft axis positioned in an axial or parallel orientation. The spin rate is 3.5 rpm providing an AG of 5.05 m/s2, approximately half of Earth’s gravity, to maintain crew muscle mass while remaining in a comfort zone preventing dizziness or other uncomfortable sensations due to rapid movement and Coriolis effects. This spin rate will slow bone loss and is further supplemented with exercise and pharmaceutical remedies.


The habitats’ volume is 400 m
3 to easily accommodate a crew of 4 per habitat. With two habitats and a crew of 3, there is sufficient space for additional crew requirements. The two habitats, as well as their modest size, afford personal time improving psychological effects of close proximity to other crew members for long durations. The habitat module is 37.6m from Victoria’s main axis. The crew transit tunnel between the habitat module and the main axis of Victoria is large enough for the crew to float partially through grabbing onto a ladder whereby they essentially slide down into the habitat as the force of gravity increases as they approach the habitat. Returning to the main axis of Victoria from the habitat will require some ladder climbing with each rung becoming easier as the force of gravity slips away.

The habits and their truss tunnel system are spun about the spacecraft axis with the use of ion thrusters. The ion thrusters, situated with a gimbal system on the habitat ends, have a nominal performance of 5.8 m/s2 in 34 hours to either spin up or spin down the axis.

Mars Direct Modified Spacecraft

The Mars Direct Modified (MDM) is a 3-event logistical plan, Dragon/Orion capsule supported by a Falcon heavy Earth launch that can deliver 53 tons to LEO and 17.5 tons to Mars. In event 1, a Dragon/Orion Earth Return Vehicle (ERV) with a methane and LOX propellant stage is parked in Mars orbit with an uninflated space habitat. In event 2, a Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), a single-stage rocket delivering 11 tons of payload, with methane and LOX propellant lands on Mars with 2.6 tons of methane without LOX. The LOX will be made in situ from the carbon dioxide that makes up 95% of the atmosphere. A chemical reactor and a 10kw power generator are sent in the MAV and weigh about 2 tons. The remaining 11-ton payload consists of other necessary supplies and gear.

 In event 3, the Falcon Heavy launch 3-person crewed Dragon/Orion, bound for Mars, also carries a Mars methane-powered ground vehicle and a drone, developed specifically for Mars atmospheric density. A space habitat is deployed once in LEO. The 8,600 kg, 2-deck inflatable space habitat is 8.7m long by 6.3m in diameter with a volume of 180 cubic meters supporting a crew of 3. It consists of 2 solar arrays and 2 thermal radiators with walls made of layered Nextel and Kevlar that will absorb and prevent small space debris from entering the habitat.

Artificial gravity is established with an expired stage and the Dragon/Orion docked habitat. Upon entering Mars orbit, the Dragon/Orion detaches from the habitat and tethered expired stage leaving it in Mars orbit. The event 3 spacecraft lands near the already present event 2 MAV. Upon landing, the mars surface vehicle, drone and other supplies are unloaded and LOX production capability is begun.

Upon Earth return, the MRV will launch into Mars orbit docking with the already in orbit ERV. The crew will transition to the ERV and establish its 8600 kg habitat and tether with the in-orbit expired stage for artificial gravity.

MDM Artificial Gravity System 

During both the transit to Mars and the return to Earth, the mission creates a gravity environment of at least Mars equivalent 0.38g to Earth equivalent 1.0g. To generate this artificial gravity, the Dragon/Orion and inflatable habitat spins tethered to an expired trans-Mars injection stage by a non-conducting tether continuously rotating the entire complex at 2 revolutions per minute with a rim speed of 17.8m/sec. The expired stage and inflatable habitat will remain in orbit about Mars to be tethered for artificial gravity on the return to Earth transit. The rotation speed may be increased to Earth gravity equivalent by extending the tether to 447m at 2 revolutions per minute and a rim speed of 46.8m/sec. The tether length is lengthened or shortened to meet the gravity equivalent needed and where the centre of the mass resides as a mass of the two ships vary throughout the course of the mission.

Cognitive Communications and Artificial Intelligence 

Previous crewed missions have been confined in LEO and the Earth-Moon system whereby speed-of-light communications delays between crew and ground support are, for practical purposes, nonexistent due to the close proximity of the crew to Earth controllers to provide near real-time support. As collection of space data increases, the complexity of the spacecraft increases, the delay of Earth communications due to greater distance and in this case for 2033 an average of 4 minutes one way or 10 minutes minimum to receive a knowledgeable support reply to a problem, requires increased autonomy of the crew from Earth based support. To ease the burden on the crew and to provide support in lieu of Earth support,  intelligent autonomy spacecraft and habitat systems are necessary and will require greater autonomy from human interaction due to their complexity. To facilitate communications due to expected delays due to distance and interference from space events such as SPEs, cognitive radio (CR) and the infusion of artificial intelligence (AI) with space communications networks is integrated into the communications systems of the spacecraft to meet demand and increase efficiency.

The Mars communication system may fail to communicate due to: 

  •       The Earth or Mars spacecraft or Mars base receiver encounters interference or non-optimal antenna pointing resulting in loss of lock
  •       Mars mission hardware degradation due to radiation or design, reducing transmit power or increasing receiver noise
  •       Throughput is maximized 
  •       Bandwidth is minimized
  •       Transmit power is minimized due to available power and distance

In scenarios of potential communication failures, the traditional remedy is to keep transmitting or follow a predetermined protocol until the result improves. These real-time problems will result in a loss of mission data or systems failure. The benefit of CR is spacecraft onboard, real-time, autonomous mitigation of the problem as well as its root cause determination to be avoided in the future.

 The objectives of cognitive links, networks, and systems are to provide increased autonomy and reliability for the Mars communication architecture. The communication system onboard the spacecraft and on Mars provides communication, processing and storage instead of simply providing point-to-point communications and links. Due to the nature of Mars mission human spaceflight, autonomy technology is robust and resilient, reacting both to changes in the space and Martian environment and system faults and failures. Cognitive radio is able to restrict the interference of communications by adapting to the dynamic nature of space weather by modifying its transmission frequency or cancelling out distortions with the help of AI.

The CR system is data-driven and uses non-deterministic methods and decision-based algorithms to improve communications autonomy optimizing communication links of bandwidth, frequency, data routing, antenna pointing, and asset management. The CR system is constantly aware of the communications environment and adapts to the operational parameters to improve on past performance to optimize future performance. 

AI is engaged in the variety of mission planning functions which in turn provides greater autonomy for the crew. The systems onboard the spacecraft use AI to replace the Earth ground controllers to expedite spacecraft maintenance, mitigate failures, and prevent future failures.  The AI maintenance system is designed to operate without crew interaction and communicates with Earth systems to provide continuous monitoring, maintenance and software repair of spacecraft systems to reduce crew workloads as well as lack of trained experts in the myriad of systems.

Radiation Mitigation

Human space exploration has been limited to various durations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and too short visits to the Moon. For short-duration missions, the adverse effects of radiation exposure outside of the Earth’s protective magnetic field on the human body are minimal. There have been only a few astronauts in LEO for more than 6 months and very few more than one year. Mars missions are planned to be from one to three years in length and will have a large impact on crew health due to the effects of space exposure and the lack of environmental protections enjoyed by Earth surface dwellers.

 The space radiation environment is significantly different from that found terrestrially. Space radiation primarily consists of Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) and Solar Particle Events (SPE), consisting of protons, alpha and heavier particles. These high energy particles inflict greater biological damage than that resulting from typical terrestrial radiation hazards. Space crew exposures will exceed exposures routinely received by terrestrial radiation workers.

Astronaut exposure to GCR within an unprotected or thinly shielded spacecraft over the expected Mars transits is sufficient to exceed current NASA exposure guidelines. Galactic cosmic radiation originates from outside the solar system. It consists of ionized charged atomic nuclei from hydrogen (88%) and helium (10%) to heavier ions such as uranium. They are characterized by extremely large kinetic energies.

For terrestrial radiation workers, additional protection against radiation exposure can be provided through increased shielding. Additional shielding against space radiation exposure may not be practical or efficient. GCR is extremely penetrating. Dose equivalent exposure rates behind thin shielding are reduced rapidly at first, but plateau with increasing thickness. Thus, thicker shields become less efficient. The additional mass added purely for reducing radiation exposures becomes a substantial mass penalty for transportation vehicles and therefore may dramatically increase mission cost. This is the result of the production of a large number of secondary products including neutrons from nuclear interactions between the GCR and shield nuclei. The ionization of materials temporarily increases their conductivity, potentially permitting damaging current levels in spacecraft electronics resulting in permanent damage. The electronics are made to be “radiation hard” for space applications to resist such effects through design, material selection, and fabrication methods.

SPEs are the most difficult to predict and manage to reach the Earth in less than 30 minutes. SPEs are the result of coronal mass ejections that originate from disturbed magnetic regions of the sun’s surface. The solar cycle is 11 years with a period of 4 years of relative inactivity and 7 years with a higher amount of SPEs. Solar flares occur without much warning with the magnitude and intensity of a flare are difficult to determine until the event is in progress. SPEs are directional as well. They may impact the Earth but not the Mars transit crew or vice versa. Fortunately, most SPEs are a problem for 1-2 days, which allows for relatively small areas of confinement for the Mars transit crew. To minimize exposure, the crew would be restricted to the habitat storm shelter during the most intense portion of the SPE, which may last for several hours. Shielding of approximately 20 g/cm2 or more of water equivalent or hydrogen-rich material will provide sufficient shielding to protect the crew. For relative comparison, the aluminium equivalent of the ISS US Lab is 10 g/cm2, ISS average is 5.26 g/cm2, a space suit is 1.22 g/cm2, and the STS-66 cargo bay is 15 g/cm2.

Although there are different types of radiation, ionizing radiation is measured in Sievert (Sv). It is a unit of a dose of ionizing radiation and is a measure of the health effect of low levels of ionizing radiation on the human body resulting in genetic damage or cancer. One Sievert represents a 5.5% probability of developing cancer. An astronaut’s career exposure to radiation is limited to not exceed 3% of the Risk of Exposure-Induced Death (REID) from fatal cancer. NASA policy is to assure that this risk limit is not exceeded by the cumulative effective dose that is received by an astronaut throughout their career. The relationship between radiation exposure and risk is both age and gender-specific due to latency effects and differences in tissue types, sensitivities, and life spans between genders. 

One milli-Sievert (mSv) of space radiation is approximately equivalent to receiving one abdominal x-ray. An average CT scan is 10 mSv. Earth surface dwellers receive an average of 3 mSv every year from background radiation alone. For relative comparison, 6 months onboard the International Space Station, a crew member receives approximately 75 mSv or 0.49 mSv/day. A 180-day transit to Mars is approximately unshielded 325 mSv, and 500 days on Mars is about unshielded 325 mSv with a return to Earth of approximately 180 days for a total of 710 mSv. In Mars orbit, a crew member can expect an average radiation of 1.07 mSv/day. For a 35-year old male and female crew member, the radiation limit is 2.50 Sv and 1.75 Sv respectively. The total accumulation is approximately 3.9% of cancer probability. This does not exceed the REID requirement, but the crew members would certainly appreciate the ability to return to space eventually upon Earth arrival and reduce their probability of cancer due to radiation accumulation. A mitigation habitat architecture is achievable without the high cost attributed to large mass shield structures.

 Ionizing radiation is mitigated by materials with high amounts of hydrogen. Hydrogen is effective at fragmenting ions such as are found in GCR, stopping protons such as are found in SPE, and slowing down neutrons formed as secondary interaction particles when the GCR and SPE ions interact with the spacecraft hull. Materials with high amounts of hydrogen that may be used are an ethylene polymer (CH2) containing a lot of hydrogen and is a solid material, but is not a high strength load-bearing material for aerospace applications. The space industry uses aluminium alloys for primary structures, augmented with polyethene or water (H2O) for radiation shielding. Water is very heavy and would require a thickness of 30 cm or 42 metric tons to provide sufficient radiation shielding.

The Mars mission Starship, as well as crew member clothing, have an integrated hydrogenated boron nitride nanotubes (BNNT) made of carbon, boron, and nitrogen, with hydrogen interspersed throughout the empty spaces between the nanotubes. BNNT has a high strength-to-weight ratio, high-temperature resistance to over 950°C whereby aluminium melts at 660°C. BNNT’s, which are a molecular combination of boron and nitrogen in a rectangular polymorph structural form (about one-thousandth the thickness of a human hair), provide a nanoscale structural reinforcement in a variety of materials. BNNT is an excellent absorber of ionizing radiation and secondary particles making hydrogenated BNNTs an ideal shielding material. It has good structural properties for load-bearing and high-temperature stability. Further radiation mitigation is afforded by weaving crew member clothing with BNNT for onboard the spacecraft, as well as their extravehicular spacesuits.

The crew habitat modules’ walls are integrated with BNNT to mitigate omnipresent radiation and SPE events. The BNNT density is sufficient to mitigate GCR ions and average intensity of SPE ions. In the case of more severe SPE events, the cabin crew module with the additional layering of BNNT, water cells used for recycling as well as the spacecraft hull serves as a radiation shield.

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When?

Is there a better time than another to visit Mars? What is the duration of a trip to Mars? How often can we launch to Mars?

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Introduction

Planning a trip to Mars is no different than planning an excursion. When planning a trip the first thing that comes to mind is when will it take place? On one hand, Holiday trips, for instance, are bound to the holiday calendar and the availability of the travellers, on the other hand, work trips are often related to one specific event or series of events (meetings, fairs, conferences…).  A trip to Mars relies on other decisive criteria such as the distance between the two planets and the current propulsion technologies. If selected, both of them will define the launch windows, the type of the mission and the duration of transit and stay on Mars. Indeed, by choosing an adequate launch window, energy consumption can be optimised and crew stay on Mars can be shortened so that there is enough time to complete the mission goals without increasing crew’s risk exposure (radiation, technical failures, low gravity).  

Chapter 1: Duration of the mission

Earth and Mars travel around the sun in elliptical orbits as announced by the first Keplerian Law. Knowing that both have different orbiting velocities, the distance between the two planets is minimized every two years. In other words, Earth-Mars distance varies within a cycle of two years. For the distance to be minimized in both transit legs, a round trip to Mars can’t last less than two years. This plan is called a conjunction class mission. However, scientists nowadays based on technological advances predict that in a few years, it will be possible to fly to Mars in less than 6months and therefore have a round trip that doesn’t exceed an Earth year, which can also be referred to as an opposition class mission.

Opposition Class Mission and Short Trips to Mars

Opposition class missions are short-duration missions. The first leg of the mission relies on the Hohmann Transfer Orbit just like conjunction class missions. However, these missions don’t require a long stay period on Mars since astronauts don’t have to wait for the planets to align in order to return. The return phase of the mission uses a high energy trajectory. More propellant is therefore needed. Opposition class missions are generally not considered as a plausible alternative because they require advanced propulsion technologies such as rockets with a delta-V superior to 7.0 [km/s]. 

To decrease the quantity of loaded propellant, some theoretical research suggests that a short trip to Mars can be reached using pre-positioned fuel supplies, although in-flight refuelling in space has not already been tested. 

SpaceX predicts that Starship will be able to get around 100 passengers to Mars in less than four months with more liberty to choose the surface stay duration on Mars. They plan to use high energy trajectories for both legs of the round trip and therefore will need pre-positioned fuel supplies and in-flight refuelling. 

Conjunction Class Missions: Long Duration Missions

A conjunction class mission is a long-duration mission to Mars that uses Hohmann transfer orbit for the go and return leg from Mars. It requires current propulsion technologies with a Trans-Earth Injection Delta-V of no more than 3.0 [km/s]. 

In addition to that, the duration of the transit to and from Mars can go from 180 days up to 270 days. 

These types of missions have long-stay durations on Mars. Indeed the crew will have to spend around 517 days on the Martian surface before going back to Earth, waiting for the two planets to have optimal positions for a Hohmann transfer. Hohmann transfers are elliptical orbits that allow the spacecraft to escape the planet’s gravitational field using the least amount of propellant. 

The main goal of a crewed mission to Mars is to send a group of astronauts to and back from Mars in the least amount of time possible with the least amount of propellant. For this reason, NASA has developed a 12 step round trip to Mars using a fast conjunction class mission. The Mars Direct plan also relies on such a plan. However, it only needs to load propellant for the first leg of the mission as the spacecraft is supposed to refuel In-situ on Mars using propellant that was produced by a nuclear generator previously sent to Mars. 

However, not all conjunction class missions have the same duration of transit and stay on Mars. These factors can drastically vary according to the launch window chosen. Therefore getting to Mars with the least amount of propellant and with the shorted delays depend on when the spacecraft is launched. 

Chapter 2: Lift-off date

How to choose a launch window? 

All conjunction class missions use Hohmann transfer for both legs of the trip, however, according to the launch window chosen for the mission, durations can vary. 

Choosing a launch window therefore has to rely on the mission’s priority. Does the mission require long stay durations on Mars? Can the technologies afford 3 years-long trips without increasing the crew’s exposition to risks and danger? 

Nowadays, many scientists advocate that 2033 is an optimal launch window choice. Indeed, it allows a transit duration of 180 days with no more than deltaV=3.5 compared to for instance the 2022 launch window with deltaV=4.  

The 2033 launch window has the shortest travel distance between the two planets during the go and the return phase. Moreover, Mars stay time is 517 days which is very similar to the rest of the conjunction mission opportunities. At last, the 2033 launch window enables astronauts to spend less time in transit, using less propellant and having a relatively short round trip of 2.2 years with relatively fewer risks and less radiation exposure. It is very likely that by 2033, in-flight refuelling would be tested and propulsion technologies would allow safer travel with more abort possibilities. 

Chapter 3: Weather on Mars

General Overview

Mars is the last planet of the inner four terrestrial planets in the solar system at an average distance of 141 million miles from our Sun.  It revolves around the Sun every 687 days and rotates every 24.6 hours (nearly the same as Earth).  Mars has two tiny satellites, named Deimos and Phobos (shown below).  They are most likely small asteroids drawn into Mars’ gravitational pull.  Deimos and Phobos have diameters of just 7 miles and 14 miles, respectively.  An interesting side note; the inner moon, Phobos, makes a revolution around Mars in slightly more than seven hours.  This means since it orbits Mars faster than the planet rotates, the satellite rises in the west and sets in the east if observed from the Martian surface.

Atmosphere and Weather

The Martian atmosphere is composed primarily of carbon dioxide.  However, unlike Venus, the Mars atmosphere is very thin, subjecting the planet to a bombardment of cosmic rays and producing the very little greenhouse effect.  Mariner 4, which flew by Mars on July 14, 1965, found that Mars has an atmospheric pressure of only 1% to 2% of the Earth’s.  Temperatures on Mars average about -63 degrees C.  However, temperature’s range from around -140 degrees C. in the wintertime at the poles, to +21 degrees C. over the lower latitudes in the summer.

Although the water in Mars’ atmosphere is only about 1/1000th of the Earth’s, enough water vapour exists that thin, wispy clouds are formed in the upper layers of the Martian NASA/Martian Surface from Pathfinderatmosphere as well as around mountain peaks.  No precipitation falls, however.  At the Viking II Lander site, frost covered the ground each winter.

Seasons do exist on Mars, as the planet tilts on its axis about 25 degrees.  Whitecaps of water ice and carbon dioxide ice shrink and grow with the progression of winter and summer at the poles.  Evidence of climatic cycles exists, as water ice is formed in layers with dust between them.  In addition, features near the south pole may have been produced by glaciers which are no longer present.

In general, Mars has highly variable weather and is often cloudy.  The planet swings from being warm and dusty to cloudy and cold.  Mars long ago was likely a warmer, wetter planet with a thicker atmosphere, able to sustain oceans or seas.

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Where?

How to choose a landing site? What are places to explore on Mars? What are the resources available?

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Introduction

Our choice of a landing site will be based on numerous factors such as the relief in the area, the amount of absorbed cosmic ray, water, and information that we can gather.

Chapter 1: Geographic Data/Land

-Latitude

The latitude that is possible to consider is within ±30° of the equator. due to engineering constraints.

-Altitude

If you start with a launch vehicle, and you want to bring it down in a controlled manner, you’re going to end up operating that propulsion system in the supersonic regime at the right altitudes to give you Mars-relevant conditions.

-Shape of the landing site

The area considered should be open, flat with no high volcanic structures to make the descent easy with no high risk so in this case, we need to avoid two major areas where there two major volcanoes are located which are Tharsis and Elysium according to the map in Fig-1. The best area that will be flat and it will also provide a low altitude and more time while descending on Mars will be a low flat plain.

Here is the list of all the low flat plains on Mars:

  1. Acidalia Planitia
  2. Amazonis Planitia
  3. Arcadia Planitia
  4. Argyre Planitia
  5. Chryse Planitia
  6. Elysiym Planitia
  7. Eridania Planitia
  8. Hellas Planitia
  9. Isidis Planitia
  10. Utopia Planitia
  11. Meridiani Planum (Arabia Terra)

-Nearby exploration sites

The best site to land on will be near many interesting site that we can go and explore.

Chapter 2: Work

-Protection from radiation

The human body can only absorb a certain dose of cosmic rays from natural sources of radiation. The map in fig-3 shows the calculations of the skin dose equivalent for astronauts on the surface of Mars near solar minimum. Higher altitudes (such as Olympus Mons) offer less shielding from the CO2 atmosphere and lower altitudes (such as Hellas Planatia). The effective total dose has a range between 20 and 30 cSv/yr as a function of altitude for the static atmospheric high-density CO2 model used here.

The areas of Mars expected to have the lowest levels of cosmic radiation are where the elevation is lowest because those areas have more atmosphere above them to block out some of the radiation.

According to fig-4 the best spots to choose are those of the less amount of cosmic rays the acceptable dose range, in general, is in the dark blue and blue colours from 10 to 20 rem/yr which are the blue areas and those are low flat plains.

-Protection from storms

Dust storms on Mars happen normally during the southern summer season when the planet is nearer to the Sun along its curved circle. The upgraded sunlight based enlightenment causes more grounded temperature contrasts, with the subsequent air developments all the more promptly lifting dust particles from the surface – some of which measure up to about 0.01 mm in size.

Chapter 3:  Resources and Research Interests/Discover

-Water and Ice

This rainbow-coloured map shows underground water ice on Mars. Cool colours are closer to the surface than warm colours; black zones indicate areas where a spacecraft would sink into fine dust; the outlined box represents the ideal region to send astronauts for them to dig up water ice.

When it comes to the northern hemisphere of Mars, the Arcadia Planitia region is a desirable target. There is plenty of water ice there, widespread and accessible under only 30 cm or so of regolith.

The data acquired from (Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey suggest a trove of water ice throughout the Martian poles and mid-latitudes. Fig-5 reveals particularly shallow deposits that future mission planners may want to study further.

Colonists in Arcadia Planitia will not only have access to abundant, accessible underground water ice, they might also have a great view of Olympus Mons, which is almost 22km high.

We need water to produce fuel and propellant This happens according to Sabatier equation

A genuine way to have propellant using in-situ resources:

CH4 ⟶ C + 2 H2 ;

2 CH4 ⟶ C2H2 + 3 H2.

-Minerals, Astrobiology, Forms of life

Prior to the Mars Exploration Rovers, the closest evidence we had of past life is the Alan Hills 84001 meteorite. Based on chemical composition, this meteorite is known to have its origins from Mars. What prompted excitement with possible life was a close examination of this meteorite:

-Geological Structures

Mars, similar to our Earth, has had a functioning and changed geologic history; be that as it may, its surface and geology have been substantially less influenced by erosional forms due to its moderately thin atmosphere. During its earliest geological period, the Noachian Mars surface has been under accretion and heavy impact cratering. Mars’ surface is divided into lowland and highland regions.

Around a large portion of the planet comprises intensely cratered good country territory, discovered essentially in the southern side of the equator. The other half, which is for the most part in the north, contains more youthful, daintily cratered volcanic fields at a normal height around 5 kilometres lower than the good countries. Recall that we saw a comparative example on Earth, the Moon, and Venus. A land division into more established good countries and more youthful swamp fields are by all accounts normal for all the earthbound planets aside from Mercury.

Lying over the north-south division of Mars is an elevated landmass the size of North America. This is the 10-kilometre-high Tharsis swell, a volcanic locale delegated by four extraordinary volcanoes that ascend still higher into the martian sky.

The main surface features of Mars are :

The best location to land on will be the one close to river channels because of the amount of information that we can extract from there and also near Dark slope streaks are most common in the equatorial regions of Mars, particularly in Tharsis, Arabia Terra, and Amazonis Planitia. It has been suggested that streaks could form when accumulations of dry ice start subliming right after sunrise. Nighttime CO2 frost is widespread in low latitudes so we will probably find water there.

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