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Martian aerobot missions: first two generations

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2 Author(s)
J. A. Cutts ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA ; V. V. Kerzhanovich

The possible role of aerobot missions as new vehicles for Mars exploration has been recently emphasized. The unique combination of proximity to the surface, and mobility exceeding tens of thousands of kilometers complements the capabilities of orbital platforms and surface rovers. Recent progress in the multi-center JPL-led Mars Balloon Validation Program (MABVAP) provides a foundation for feasible planetary aerobot missions. The MABVAP effort builds on previously studied large-scale Mars balloon missions (Russian-French Mars Aerostat, Mars Aerial Platform proposal and Mars 2001 Aerobot/Balloon Study and related technology development. The proposed approach is to develop a first generation small-scale focused science mission that features ample performance margins in the balloons, entry, deployment and inflation system, materials, instrumentation and communication. This paper describes the implications of Martian atmospheric and surface conditions on balloon mission performance. The first missions should operate in the relatively benign environments of mid-season and near the poles. They are of a micromission class with a 35-60 kg entry vehicle mass and could be launched as an auxiliary or piggyback payload. The second generation of aerobots with an entry vehicle mass of 150-200 kg will deliver aerobots with science payloads of 10-20 kg that will carry a complex of science instruments that will support a rich suite of observations of the surface and atmosphere. A part of the payload could be used to provide a degree of trajectory control for the aerobot

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2001, IEEE Proceedings.  (Volume:1 )

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