Exploring Mars MARS SURFACE EXPLORATION One question that is being asked by people is, “Why go to Mars”? The reasons are very simple. People want to gain recognition of how they were the first people who went to Mars and opened up a whole new world and most importantly to move forward in economics. As humans waste the precious materials and resources found on this planet we have to consider going to other planets to explore for materials and energy resources. Mars would be the first area for industrial development and mining in the “new world”. There are talks that by the end of this century that a manned mission to Mars should take place.
We must start preparing ourselves properly in order to explore Mars better. Scientists and researchers hopes when exploring Mars is to find interesting minerals or matter that will help us understand what Mars was like millions and millions of years ago. The first manned mission to Mars will be more complex then that of the first Moon landing which the main goal for going to the Moon was to just land safely. The main thing that researchers and scientists are striving for is exploratory, searching for useful raw materials such as water and at the same time building up an extensive scientific picture of Mars-its state at the present moment, its history and what the future developments are going to be. As astronauts journey to Mars and finally reach there the main concern and top priority when landing will be the astronauts safety. There will be more flexibility when choosing a landing site. The astronauts will decide where they want to land but must take into consideration that the roving vehicles would be able to provide extended range when travelling on the surface of Mars.
This most probably would ensure that the sites that are in the scientists interest would easily be accessible. Possible landing sites must be chosen under one goal, that would be the overall understanding of the surface and not by a place that looks attractive or has special features even if they seem alluring. The things that have to be taken in account for possible landing sites are: – guaranteeing that the explorers will touch down at the place which is specified; – choosing a place where possible interesting geological features may be found; – choosing an area where rocks have recently been exposed; – a certain area must be specified of where the roving vehicles may go. Regions on Mars that have extensive dune fields and barely any bedrock, the surface mobilities should be within a few kilometres to guarantee that samples can be obtained without any difficulty. Landing sites that have easy access to more than one type of interesting terrain has an advantage but unfortunately these sites lean to be more on the rough side and might pose to be a weighty hazard and obstacles might be in the way of roving vehicles. There are a possible of ten prime landing sites that might be chosen when a manned mission to Mars has taken place.
The Kasei and Mangala valles are made up of striking features which seem to have channels that are evidently engraved by flowing water from the past. Extensive studies would provide significant clues to why Mars lost reserves of water. These locations would offer and give explorers a big advantage as this area is close to the large volcanoes and volcanic plains that are near the equator, which will have affected their geology a tremendous deal. There are other riveting sites other than these, but they are difficult to reach for a manned mission to Mars. The Polar region sites are precluded for manned missions because fuel would be expensive to change form an initial parking orbit to a tilted orbit in order to make it possible to land there. With non-polar sites, it would be difficult to land on a gigantic volcanoes or canyons.
The problems with visiting the southern hemisphere regions is that it is less attractive then the northern hemisphere and the terrain is much more rougher. These areas are also the origin of dust storms and if a spacecraft were to land there it would be foolish. Although these regions are not going to be explored by explorers, at a later time or date they will be visited by long-range vehicles, with men or without, sent from bases elsewhere. Once the space craft has landed on the Mars and a go-ahead for a long stay has been given the crew they will eat and rest for their venture on the surface the next day. As walkers emerge onto Mars they will have to lower visors which is coated with a thin, transparent layer of gold which eliminates unsafe ultraviolet radiation.
As they emerge on the surface they will go around their spacecraft and look for any damage done and then will grab soil samples in case the explorers have to make a quick retreat. At the same time they will unload a roving vehicle in which they will travel. On foot, explorers would be able to cover a little more than a mile from the base that they would have set up. If rovers (land vehicles) were taken along then more area could be covered during exploring the planet and then would easily be able carried back to their base. When travelling across the Martian surface there will be many difficulties encountered by the explorers when using the roving vehicles.
On a manned mission there will be two kinds of roving vehicles one for smooth surfaces and one for not so smooth surfaces in an effort to increase the range of exploration. Unmanned rovers might have the same idea as the Soviet rover which has six wheels, nuclear-powered design and weighing several hundred pounds and each rover would be equipped with a standard set of sensors. Several rovers would be dispatched and controlled possiblly by an orbiting satellite. After the crew has left Mars the rover would still probe around Mars and collect samples. The rover would be controlled from earth.
Larger manned rovers will also be needed for transporting up to six hundred and eighty kilogram loads on forty kilometre journeys round trip. They should be able to go over twenty degree slopes and be able to climb one foot boulders. Even these rovers would be limited. For more vast exploration a vehicle with a laboratory would be sent. The weight of the rover would be between four to five tons but it would be able to transport two or three crew members for as long as thirty days. The range of the rover would be 100 kilometres from their base and reach speeds up to thirty-two kilometres per hour and carry two tons of equipment.
In the Soviet unmanned mission to Mars balloons will be essential when the soviets arrive there. They have many advantages such as being simple, cheap and light and would be able to cover thousands of kilometres of land in a few weeks. After each balloon is unpacked the crew would test its instruments by plugging it into standard test equipment and then attach a thin plastic object to it and inflate it with helium which would be in a pressure bottle and then release the balloon and let it drift independently. The heights that the balloon could be able to reach would depend on its volume, the weight of the payload that is in the balloon and the atmospheric temperature which changes during the course of the day. Later Manned Mars missions would have planes to explore the surface.
Studies have shown that a powered aircraft would be able to drop scientific packages, penetrators and even deliver materials needed by parties that are exploring the planet. After landing on Mars the crew would bolt together the plane. It would look like large powered glider and would be launched by a catapult or rockets. The plane would have fifteen horse power engine and it would be driven by steam which would be generated by the chemical breakdown of hydrazine. The tremendous benefit of having a Mars plane is that it can be reused, it would be easy to manoeuvre and the range the plane would be able to travel.
Maybe one day in a future mission planes would be able to glide over the surface of the planet which would benefit scientific surface exploration. When the explorers are on the planet their days will be long and exhausting. Human explorers can explore more efficiently and more thoroughly than robots can. Humans are more adaptable than robots. Humans would be able to assess a huge assortment of situations faster and would be able to adjust to their actions accordingly to what has to be done. A trained geologist with a rock hammer can accumulate m …