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Median Project – Mars Mission

31 Oct 16
Peter Bull
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Looks like ThunderStruck Aerospace is a major part of a Mars mission that just got one step closer to going to Mars. The project leverages, in some part, on the engineering knowledge acquired by Robert in his activities related to his hobby and passion of space travel & exploration as well as his engineering knowledge obtained through years of working for OTC.

The Mars Median Project is all about landing a network of organic methane detectors on Mars. Phase 1 was so successful they are moving into Phase 2 using my deployment system of impactor probes. It will be rather amazing if this gets to fly. Some testing will be in Australia somewhere and although it is me that is part of the core team, it will be the team and ThunderStruck Aero that will do the testing of the backplane and the deployment here. If it passes one more phase it may fly as a solo mission to Mars. It should be amazing. If it works it could last for years operating the median biological methane detectors, moisture detection, weather system and more. The network may be up to 30km long It will work back to the landed backshell for a relay to the orbiters and back to earth. All will be solar powered including the spikes.

Here is the conversation this morning:

Nick Howes (UK) has posted a comment on Robert’s Facebook page that reads: “And in other news, I am almost ready to let you in on [Mars] Median project phase 2… and we took your advice, lock stock mate… [Mars ground] penetrators all the way!

This is amazing as at the end of the phase 1 testing for the Median Project (out of the UK) for landing a network on Mars I specified to the team that only penetrators would do the job of landing a long network on Mars. It was all about the weight of the parts of the network and getting them safely to the ground. There was no way to carry the mass of making each node a soft landing and ESA would never put anything volatile in the lander package.

The testing of a Mars penetrators on the Nullarbor Plains will be insane. Dropping spikes from 3 Km altitude! Like I said, balloon flights and similar activities are an amazing way to test for future Mars missions. I am so looking forward to this. As one of the few people in the world with the skill set to do the high altitude work I find it amazing and it all started because of a father son bonding activity of launching a high altitude balloon – 28 flights and many years back. Wow if this goes all the way to Mars, I will be very pleased. You cannot imagine how much fun this work is and to hear that your idea is moving into stage 2 with funding is amazing.”

Nick Howes then said: “Robert, you’re gonna love the team I am working with at a UK University too, the engineering side is insane..these guys make life size Iron man robots…that work!”

Anyway stay tuned as we work over the next year testing ground penetration somewhere like the Nullabor. My company just took one step to getting a project on Mars. Slamming spikes into the ground justifies the company name of ThunderStruck Aerospace.

Then the details started flowing from Nick. They had adopted everything about the probes too.

Nick Howes: Thanks Robert. It’s logical and works, the plan in the heatshield mounting works too. Aerodynamic modelling now underway, to look at optimal release height, and impact velocity. A ton of research papers being worked through on this… trust me, it never stopped, we just had to find the right team to work on phase 2… got them now!

Robert Brand: It is a really crazy project and the penetrators will be a real first as will a network on Mars that may last for years if built right.

Nick Howes The aerodynamic modelling is being done by a University student and her supervisor. They are also going to build the shell for the penetrator (and would value your input hugely). You also need to look at a project called DS2 which was due to fly on Mars Polar lander (but crashed) different in that they planned full EDL

Robert Brand: It is the shock absorption that is critical and the penetration material. It would be great if it had a hard front and a softer crumple zone to absorb some impact but still crash through the ground without being destroyed. A spring like system for the electronics – much like a woodpeckers brain is protected from 1200G – yes – 1200G force. Lots to work on with the team

Nick Howes: Tungsten front and reinforced CF crumple zone, spring loading is in the idea too… nice. Possibly a Kevlar style composite too.

In case you missed the earlier posts about the Mars Median Project, it is a long network deployed on Mars to detect Organic Methane and pinpoint the origin of the vent.

The image is a simulation of methane detectors on Mars placed manually during a Morocco SIM. It was phase 1.


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