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  1. A subject that has long fascinated me, the idea that someday, decades or centuries after colonizing the planet, humans might someday be able to fly drones or even manned vehicles around Mars. To be clear, this is completely impractical as an exploration concept. NASA would have better luck with rovers or craft modeled after ultra high-altitude balloons here on Earth- which can reach altitudes exceeding 170,000 feet here on Earth (certainly high enough to fly in Mars' lower gravity and denser gaa composition). But I like to wonder and dream about whether we'll someday see winged aircraft on Mars... The non-rocket aircraft with the current altitude record for level flight is the NASA Helios H-1, which reached level flight at 96,863 feet on August 13, 2001. It was a subsonic monoplane flying-wing solar-electric propeller aircraft with an aspect-ratio of almost 31:1, a wing-area of 1976 sq ft, a wing-loading of 0.81 lb/sq ft, no wing-sweep, and a total gross weight of just 1600 lbs. Mars' mean molar mass is about 43.34 g/mol, as opposed to about 29 g/mol on Earth, and the highest atmospheric pressure is found in Hellas Planitia is about 1,155 Pascals (by contrast Earth's sea-level pressure is defined as 101,325 Pascals). So, the highest density air on Mars should have a density about (1155/101325) * (43.34/29) = 1.703% Earth's sea-level density, equivalent to the density of air at about 95,000 ft (28.956 km) on Earth... This is already just barely within the flight-envelope of an aircraft with specifications similar to the Helios H-1 (which could fly at altitudes over 96,000 ft), but Mars' lower gravity should allow aircraft to fly substantially higher due to the reduced lift requirements, and allow different optimization of aircraft to obtain higher total lift and altitude-ceiling at the expense of mass. What I am curious about, specifically, is what the best design characteristics would be of a winged aircraft on Mars... Would a solar electric-propeller monoplane like the Helios H-1 be the best option available? (even with radically improved materials, something like this couldn't be expected to fly more than a few thousand meters above the lowest-altitude parts of Mars with surface elevations below the nominal "sea level" of Mars...) Or would it be worthwhile to go with something like a biplane or even triplane design to obtain lower wing-loading and better aspect-ratio? (the Helios H-1 wings were 11.5 inches from front to back. With a biplane design, a better aspect-ratio could be achieved by making the wings thinner, to obtain similar wing-area while extending just as far from the Center of Mass...) This was actually a design-strategy in some early aircraft that allowed higher altitude-ceiling, climb-rate, and better maneuverability on some early fighter designs at the expense of top speed- and on Mars, where attitude-ceiling would be the driving design-constraint, this would probably be a worthwhile tradeoff as well... Alternatively, if provided with electric supersonic jet engines (similar to what Elon Musk likes to fancifully talk about today) or even nuclear-thermal supersonic turbojets, a better strategy might be to opt for speed instead of low wing-loading to keep winged aircraft airborne. This would require slightly futuristic propulsion methods, but there is nothing about the laws of physics that forbids obtaining your propulsion energy from batteries, solar panels, fuel-cells, and/or a tiny nuclear reactor instead of combustion. .. Supersonic design concepts might also be aided by breakthroughs in airframe design, if the Japan/MIT concept of a supersonic biplane ever comes to fruition- in which two wings are placed such that the shockwaves from each destructively interfere with each other, producing less than half the wave drag of a comparable wing-area monoplane and reduced sonic-boom. However these designs have significant difficulty with low-speed flight, and while they might be able to fly perfectly well at low altitudes on Mars, would probably have extremely high takeoff and landing speeds that would require impractically long and smooth runways for even the lightest of craft... These ideas might all seem fanciful or even impossible, but they are not so pie-in-the sky as one might think, and I would appreciate if all individuals responding to this post keep the discussion optimistic and non-critical. Let me repeat myself- these concepts are on the very edge of what is possible, and many of you may feel they are *impossible*. I do not mean this as a form of backseat or pre-emptive moderation, but I would appreciate if those of you who are critics and cynics respect those of us who would like to have a positive discussion of this concept, by refraining from quickly jumping to make such statements- as they will drown out all other discussion if you do not control yourselves from making highly-critical statements to this effect. Out of respect for myself and other forum users, please avoid statements here to the effect that flight on Mars is impossible- the assumption that most people probably hold, and this discussion is meant to reconsider. Regards, Northstar
  2. Top of the morning to ya and a huge welcome back for me during my KSP seasonal break. I missed you all. I am now playing KSP again this winter, but with a shocking twist. IM GOING TO MAKE MY FIRST PARTS MOD!! And what better way to do that than to introduce : MARS SCIENCE LABRATORY! (MSL) The primary objective for this mod is to release all the parts necessary to encapsulate your lander/rover payloads for transit to your EDL choice of location. I have a few parts done which are scaled to the Curiosity mission. My secondary goal is to release parts based around the historical timeline. For example I would make the areoshell re-scaled to meet the standards of the vintage Viking/Mariner landers. The MER rovers would then use a different setup. But what do you guys think? I might actually make a rover! That is if Im able to do animations Well here are some pics to show some work that is being done. As in the words of Ben from TMRO, "If your not bending metal, your not serious about going to space". WARNING: All parts are hand-crafted by me (it will be okay, trust me The early alpha is here for testing! I have two parts ready with a 3rd part (cruise stage) being now worked on. RELEASE DROPBOX (github no longer supports free accounts) https://www.dropbox.com/s/6nw5uxmeq30mwkn/Mars Science Labratory EARLY ALPHA-by lextacy.rar?dl=0 LICENSE CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
  3. Colour image of Phobos. Although there isn't a huge amount of colour! Plus the image is more "colourful" than you would see if you were actually there as it includes wavelengths that are normally invisible to the human eye. This Google Plus post also has a link to a 3D image should you have a pair of red/blue glasses handy
  4. Is anyone aware that ExoMars's Schiaparelli Lander will be touching down tomorrow morning? http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/ExoMars/Watch_ExoMars_arrival_and_landing Oops. Did not see proper post. Oh well.
  5. Hey folks, As per Nibb31's request, I've started a new thread for discussing Martian colonisation, agriculture, living-off-the-land etc. A couple of observations to start. Perchlorates aren't neccesarily bad and could be quite useful provided they can be extracted and processed safely. Perchlorate candles, for example, are a well known emergency oxygen supply. Plus you get sodium chloride as a reaction product, so you get some lovely Martian salt to go on those Martian potatoes. Also Martian regolith wouldn't make a bad starter for making soil. It'll need a load of water and organic material for sure but it's got plenty of vital minerals.
  6. So getting a human to land on Mars and come back is very hard. But here's an idea for a less sexy mission, but still sends people to Mars and if anything gets us some practice. Apparently, a mission to Mars will involve 18 months on Mars itself. That's a tall order, but theoretically doable. What if, instead of landing the astronauts, you leave them in orbit and land one rover per astronaut. Each one with certain specialized equipment. Each astronaut then spends 18 months working long hours driving them around, no need to tie up the DSN. You have one or more land close to a rocket capable of docking with your orbiting station in LMO so at the end of the mission you can bring back some samples. Now, we don't get that sexy shot of humans standing on another world, but in terms of science we would have three curiosities running around, probably something more sophisticated. The real utility of this project comes from that 14 minute delay no longer being a problem. Any possible benefit of having humans on Mars with less risk, and without having to go all the way down to the surface. Which means it will be easier to bring them home. Which gets to the title of this thread, what is that 14 minutes (and a free DSN for other missions) worth? And, this tech can possibly be applied to longer missions to Jupiter or Saturn, where the delay time is more severe so you get a bigger benefit.
  7. I know, this should probably be a part of the SpaceX main thread, but I couldn't resist! T-3 hours to Elon's talk! A couple of handy links: http://www.veloenvivo.com/iac/eng.html https://www.reddit.com/live/xnrdv28vxfi2 Any of the links in the comments here: https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/54itnx/rspacex_mars_architecture_announcementiac_2016/ http://www.iafastro.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/IAC2016_FP_FULL-Doc_Sept201620_FINAL_LowResCHECK2.pdf (page 41) http://www.spacex.com/mars HYPE! Sad, looks like the virgin galactic thing isn't being streamed. Fingers for BO's being streamed.
  8. http://jalopnik.com/congress-just-mandated-a-human-mission-to-mars-1786994598 Science reporting sucks, and so does Gawker Media.
  9. Anybody else tuning in to this? I wish I could attend, but ... school. The full itinerary can be viewed here. Looks like an interesting lineup.
  10. I'm a fan of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, and wanted to recreate the Ares from Red Mars in Kerbal. It's a HUGE ship, eight rights of six large tanks each, nuclear propulsion, room for 100+ Kerbals and their gear to get to Duna and setup a permanent base. Here's the YouTube playlist with the trailer and the first two episodes, lots more recorded!
  11. I watched The Martian for the second time yesterday, so I decided to do this. The plan is to send a bunch of missions to Marcx (a modified version of Duna from my mod Realistic Remodel) and eventually end up with a colony on the planet. Everything is stock, except for a few utility mods, such as Trajectories. Part I: Intelligence Lander Next I'm gonna try to do a manned mission based on The Martian, starting with the MAV.
  12. Hi, I want to offer you my version Mars colonization. Here I will upload videos as they become available Protoss mission - Mars satellite #1
  13. Adding to the many remarkable properties of graphene, they are also highly efficient in converting heat directly to electricity: SUTD team proposes low-temperature thermionic converter with graphene cathode; about 45% efficiency. 9 March 2015 http://www.greencarcongress.com/2015/03/20150309-sutd.html For spacecraft operating too far from the Sun or needing too much power to use solar cells, radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG's) have been used, and nuclear space reactors have been proposed in regards to manned missions. RTG's however have very poor efficiencies in the range of 3% to 7%: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator#Efficiency And the nuclear space reactors that have been tested only have efficiencies in a similar poor range: http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/non-power-nuclear-applications/transport/nuclear-reactors-for-space.aspx though a proposed nuclear space reactor could have ca. 25% efficiency. The new research on graphene however suggests it could get efficiencies in the range of 45% in converting heat directly to electricity. And using graphene rather than heavy metals for the thermoelectric conversion would also save significantly in weight. The greater efficiency at a lighter weight might make possible proposed nuclear electric space propulsion systems such as VASIMR that could cut trips to Mars to weeks travel time instead of months. The Mars Society president Robert Zubrin had criticized VASIMR on the grounds that it would require an unreasonablly lightweight nuclear power system for the power it put out: The VASIMR Hoax By Robert Zubrin | Jul. 13, 2011 http://www.spacenews.com/article/vasimr-hoax But taking into account both the higher efficiency and the lighter weight, a graphene based thermoelectric conversion system may allow the required lightweight power system for VASIMR or other nuclear electric propulsion systems. Bob Clark
  14. http://spacenews.com/bezos-suggests-nasa-pursue-prizes-and-gigantic-technology-programs/ I think a lot of people here have similar sentiments, but let's not forget that space prizes have a spotty history- Bigelow's Space Crew Transportation prize fell flat, the Google Lunar X-Prize has constantly been delayed, and a similar prize is unlikely to be repeated. Honestly, a more "CCdev" solution is probably better (Bezos apparently didn't like it tho, they felt NASA had too much involvement in it), with there being less of a prize, than a contract for spacecraft based off that design. This would likely limit that program to Orbiters (and possibly asteroid sample return missions/ asteroid probes in general, since asteroids and comets have huge amounts of variety, and a similar design can be used for each.) More specialized things like Mars Sample Return, and rovers could then instead be placed into NASA's Discovery, New Frontiers, and Flagship Programs- thus, allowing for more 'experimental' missions in those programs that can't use a common design, and putting less pressure on (esp. Discovery Program). After all, only "big" companies like LockMart, OrbitalATK, SpaceX, etc. would be able to compete, and similar things, like Mariner, using the same baseline design, were a success (though did it actually save $$$?). Only problem is Mars Sample Return ends up in the Flagship Program anyways. Probably not a huge deal, considering it's nearly a HUGE NASA priority (right next to Titan/Enceledus, and Uranus) and we already have the caching rover in development, and the orbiter being pitched to Congress. The pickup rover can be derived off MER, and a Pheonix-based lander carrying a rocket to rendezvous with the orbiter. That section only may just fit in the New Frontiers budget. I doubt that would work. Way too experimental and risky for a private company to get into (unforeseen difficulties in the technology), and especially nuclear reactors are something it would be difficult to even get funding. There's a reason NASA doesn't X-planes and tech development internally.
  15. Wanted to do one last goodbye to my RSS/TAC-LS career before retreating to the calmer waters of OPM
  16. Crimson Aspirations is an Apollo style Duna/Mars return mission craft for use in the stock game or in Stock Sized Real Solar System. It has a 2 person rover to deploy on the ground and space for 4 crew. 182 parts Download Launch to above 200km orbit, deploy solar panels, transfer to Duna or Mars, orbit Duna/Mars, move crew into Lander and detach, stow solar panels if deployed and de-orbit, start slowing down with rockets at just under 15km until you can deploy drogue chutes, continue reducing speed until main chutes can be deployed safely, at this point turn off engines and wait till the last 100 metres or so to turn them back on and wipe off the remaining speed to get it under 10ms on landing. Once landed deploy rover and solar panels. When ready to leave stow solar panels and start your launch to rendezvous, use up the landing stage fuel to give you a little boost and head for orbit. Rendezvous and dock as frugally as you can and transfer crew to command module. Leave Duna/Mars for Earth. At Kerbin/Earth use up any fuel to slow you down before re-entering and deploy inflatable heat shield and then parachutes, once chutes fully deployed you can detach heat shield.
  17. The time has come! Mars has been in obscurity since April of 2014, but now it is shining at magnitude -1.9/-2.1. This is the brightest Mars has been since 2005 and it's time to take advantage of that. Mars' opposition is May 22nd and it will appear very nice for the next 5-10 days. So, if anyone has the right equipment, observe Mars! OTHER THINGS TO OBSERVE Mars is near Saturn, the Moon, and Antares, giving anybody a nice selection of beautiful astronomical objects to choose from. The nearby constellations of Scorpius and Ophiuchus have over a dozen clusters and nebulae combined and provide deep-sky observers a wide range of things to see. Farther away in the night sky is Jupiter. All of its moons are out, and Jupiter is also passing very close to some background stars. FINAL NOTES Anybody can post photographs of any objects they observe these nights. It is highly encouraged to post something about your observations, and to try and find surface features on Mars. I'll also be doing a bunch of observations, especially since I've missed every other Martian opposition. PICTURES If anybody wants to, they can have their pictures of Mars put up on this main page. Here are some of my best Mars pictures from my observations on May 20th: Happy Observing!
  18. I really like this idea. It sees like something logical that could happen. What do you think? what changes do you think should be made? http://marsbase.org/contents
  19. This is my idea for a space exploration road map. Not all of it is politically plausible. 2016: Orion program replaced with with the integrated space exploration vehicle, or ISEV program, which utilizes orion and a privately developed DragonRider with Orion life support and a service module in addition to a trunk. DreamChaser selected for ISS crew delivery, in addition to other spacecraft. BEAM on station, with good results. Bigelow begins developing a module to fit the dragon trunk. 2017: Commercial crew delivery begins. Exploration sats deployed. 2018: Insight launch, SLS test flight to the moon, Falcon heavy test flight, ExoMars launch, dragonlab in service, Nauka delivered. Mars cubsats delivered. OSIRIS REX mission. JWST. 2019: Falcon 9R flight. 2020: ARM vehicle launched. Bigelow station alpha on orbit. 2020 rover. 2021: em1, Taingong 3 construction. 2022: Lunar orbit station begins construction to support future moon bases and deep space missions. Probe to Apophis. Mars exploration landers/ rovers.Luanar base tests asteroid equipment. 2023: Europa clipper launch, Jupiter cubesat network, includes lander cubes. 2024: deep space mission from lunar station, flies to asteroid.Phobos satellites.Saturn titan submarine. 2025: SpaceX starts work on Falcon X. ULA starts work on Vulcan, ACES and ZEUS. 2026:Skylon test flight, Deep space mission.BA2100 launch. Shackleton crater outpost construction begins. 2027: Falcon X launch. NTR MTV construction begins. Taigong 3 finished. 2028: Deep space mission. Skylon comes into service. 2029: Phobos hab launched, supplies launched. 2030: ISS decommissioned. Skylon begins space station construction, International and corporate collaboration allow a 2nd MTV, with a centrifuge, to be built. 2031: Phobos mission. 2032:Moon base is enlarged. 2033:Mars supply run, Falcon X heavy, falcon XX in service, Phobos return. 2034: MTV 2 finished. 2035: MTV Embarks on mars excursion. Humanity becomes an interplanetary civilization! 2036: Venus landers sent. 2037: 2nd mars mission launched. Previous one returns. 2038: Space exploration becomes a huge business. Preparations are made for venus mission. 2039: Mars missions launch and return. 2040: Venus mission. 2041: mars outpost established, MCT Constructed. 2042: SpaceX begins mars colony construction. 2050:FUSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2055: Space Elevator. I will be adding details and more events later, but for now, what do you think?
  20. The thought occurred to me that if you had an engine with sufficiently high energy to pull a brachistochrone (thrust prograde halfway to your destination, then retrograde until you arrive) to Mars, the ideal plan for a manned Martian mission would be to start from LEO at 1 gee, then gradually taper off thrust through the full transfer to 0.3 gees to Martian orbit. That way, your crew would be smoothly acclimatized to Martian gravity and have no adjustment period. The same could be done in reverse, starting at 0.3 gees and thrusting harder and harder (no innuendo intended) until you reached Earth at exactly 1 gee retrograde. Unfortunately I have absolutely no idea how much dV would be required for such a maneuver, nor how long the transfer would take. It would require like four nested integrals, and trying to set it up for iterative solution in Excel would be a nightmare. I don't even know if outgoing dV would equal incoming dV, due to the influence of old Oberth. Any ideas on how to calculate that? Notably, such a thrust profile would be a prime candidate for beamed power...
  21. I was doing calculations for a hypergolics fuelled trip using tech from 1970-1980, and I came up with 40 tons to land, 292 tons to orbit, and 700 tons to inject to Mars. Is this correct?
  22. NASA recently did research on a propulsion system that could get humans to Mars in as little as 3 days for a 100 kg probe, and a Manned (Much heavier) spacecraft in a month. Now, we do know this tech exists, like Starwisp, but if they can scale up the lasers (And power) needed (With either massive solar panels, or fusion reactors), we could send a probe to Proxima Centauri by the end of the century, and have it get there in as little as 40 years. Now, there's no telling of whether this would get enough funding (Or any funding), but if it did, we could have a very fast propulsion system that could allow us to explore to solar system quickly. So what do you think about it? And do you guys think building something like this would be worth it?
  23. Mars is our universal neighbor, but we are yet to get the technology to land man on it. Consequently, all we know about it are from the robots that are deployed to explore it. we will let you in on some interesting facts about Mars.
  24. Because a recent thread was derailed by an argument about whether or not a Venus colony was a good idea or not, I'm going to try to make this a thread for discussion. I, personally am rather biased by landism, so I'd say Mars would be the better choice.
  25. So, I'm curious about how smart it would be for the world's space agencies to collaborate on building a Hermes style transport ship for manned Mars exploration(picture below). My thought is, if they all get together, splurge and build a highly efficient/designed to last ship where the computer systems and electronics are easy to replace, then it could also likely be used for beyond Mars exploration missions. Such as a flyby of Venus, etc. Yes it would be required to overengineer some systems and to include a nice buffer on the amount of dV onboard, but I was curious if otherwise it makes sense to do it this way? Am I totally off base here or does that actually make a decent amount of sense?
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