Exploring Mars

Abstract

The idea of human explorers walking on the surface of Mars has long been a dream for scientists, but in the last couple of years this idea has come closer to becoming reality.

NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s with the use of their Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft, and SpaceX recently unveiled plans for taking humans to Mars within the same time frame. Humans will most likely live on Mars by 2040, and this will require new personal transport solutions.

The goal of this project was to investigate what requirements and limitations are involved in exploring Mars, and how these can be applied to designing a vehicle for extreme environments.

The final concept, the Mars Roving Vehicle, is a lightweight vehicle designed for short exploration missions on Mars. With room for one astronaut and his equipment.

Inspiration and Method

NASA is preparing to send a manned mission to Mars within the next 16 years. And SpaceX has also made plans for taking humans to Mars within the same time frame. Imagine that by 2040 humans will most likely live and operate bases on Mars, and this will require new personal transport solutions.

This was my inspiration for developing the Mars Roving Vehicle. Early on in the process I got in contact with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory which helped me with feedback on concepts proposals during the design process. This feedback proved invaluable in-order to create a believable design solution.

Result

The final concept, the Mars Roving Vehicle, MRV, is a lightweight electric vehicle designed for short exploration missions. It has room for one astronaut and enough equipment to support a range of mission types.

The MRV is designed to survive the extreme climate and is able to traverse very difficult terrain using its adjustable suspension system. The body and wheels are made out of aluminium and power is provided by a ion lithium battery connected to four separate in-hub engines. Using a small fast vehicle will increase the distance that astronauts can travel to perform important duties such as soil sample missions and geological surveys.

It has an open front to maximise visibility and to make it easier for an astronaut to enter and exit the vehicle. The seat is designed to make room for the astronauts life support system while at the same time offer support for the back.

The modular storage area enables the astronauts to bring different equipment depending on mission type. The additional fastening points on the sides make it possible to bring extra equipment. This make the vehicle highly adaptable as it can perform everything from exploration missions to repair and rescue operations.
For future human missions to Mars the MRV will provide a robust platform for all kinds of missions, in this image a mission to check the status of the bases solar panels.

Because the vehicle is capable of operating autonomously, the astronaut can perform his or her duties while at the same time always have the MRV close at hand.

Mars is the next step in humankinds exploration of the solar system, and the MRV is designed to be part of that future.