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Before Mars can be explored by humans, its extreme climate and environment must be investigated. This can be achieved through the deployment of weather station probes capable of measuring Martian air temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, and wind speed. The Mars Atmospheric and Climatic Survey System (MACSS) aims to collect this data, allowing predictive models of global climate patterns on Mars to be developed. These models will aid NASA in providing the needed knowledge to prepare for long-term exposure to the conditions on Mars.
The probes are compact and lightweight; they have been designed to withstand Mars’ harsh environment: extreme temperatures, statically-charged dust particles, a thin atmosphere, and intense solar radiation. Considerations of deployment were also made, with the size and weight of each probe allowing for them to be deployed as-needed and as accessories in future missions rather than simultaneously in a single mission.
With regards to components, solar panels are to supply the probes with primary power. Data would be collected by sensors and stored on a solid-state drive. A low-gain antenna would establish communication between the probes, NASA’s Deep Space Network, and Mars’ rovers and orbiters. This data can then be evaluated on Earth, allowing models of Martian climate to be formed. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of MACSS, a mockup was designed, simulating data collection in real time with Earth-equivalent components. With continued collaboration, MACSS and its probes can be further optimized for deployment to and longevity on Mars.
Mars, climate, space exploration
Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering
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