Race to Mars – Who Will Be the Winner?

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  • NASA has a plan pertaining to Mars.
  • Russia and European partners have a mission planned in 2021.
  • This decade will bring a lot of interesting news pertaining to space and especially Mars.

Currently, there is is a space race. Earlier this month NASA announced space exploration agenda. NASA plans to build a mobile habitable platform. The platform will accommodate voyages lasting up to 45 days.

It is expected the lunar base should become a springboard for the preparation of the landing on Mars. It will not only become a springboard for the study of the celestial body itself, but also for the development of technologies that ensure maximum autonomy of the base. Thus, specialists will have to create and perfect methods for obtaining water, oxygen and fuel from local resources. In addition, astronauts will have the opportunity to test advanced robotics.

Kazachok Landing Platform.

The ExoMars Kazachok is a planned robotic Mars lander led by Roscosmos, part of the ExoMars 2022 joint mission with the European Space Agency being rolled out in 2021. Kazachok translates as “Little Cossack,” and is also the name of a Russian folk dance.

In March 2019, according to the Rosskosmos, the flight product of the Kazachok landing platform of the ExoMars-2020 mission, manufactured and assembled at the Lavochkin NGO, was sent for testing to the Italian company TASinI.  In addition to the landing platform itself, a set of ground support equipment and other design elements were also sent to Europe.

TASinI will complete the final Assembly and testing of the landing module and composite spacecraft. After completing the set of tests, the device will be ready to be sent to the spaceport, from where it will go to Mars in July 2020 from Baikonur cosmodrome.

The ExoMars 2020 mission is the second stage of the largest joint project of the state Corporation Roscosmos and the European space Agency to study the surface and subsurface layer of Mars in close proximity to the landing site, conducting geological research and searching for traces of possible life on the planet. It will open a new stage of space exploration for Europe and Russia. NPO Lavochkina is the main coordinator of work on the Russian side, the developer and manufacturer of the landing module with a landing platform.

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Rosalind Franklin UK Chemist.

The value of this mission is not only in the significant appearance of new state symbols on Mars. Rosalind Franklin is the first planetary Rover that can actually find traces of past or even modern life on Mars. It is named after Rosalind Elsie Franklin, an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite.

The European Rover weighs 683 lbs and carries 57 lbs. It gets its energy from solar panels.

At present, Mars is an icy dessert, but at one point and time it had a lot of moisture. There are accumulations of water ice persist under the dust and deeper under the surface of the planet. In Equatorial zones, the Martian soil contains up to 6% of it, and in frozen areas closer to the poles of the ice may be more than 50%.

Rosalind Franklin will land in relatively moderate latitudes, and water will play a huge role in the working cycle of the Rover. To detect water and ice, the Rover carries a neutron and gamma-ray spectrometer with an ADRON-RM dosimetry unit. In design, it is close to a similar spectrometer DAN, which works on the American Mars Rover Curiosity. Both instruments were manufactured at the Moscow Institute for space research (IKI) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, although the ASTRON-RM is more economical and compact. The size of a good book, the sensor weighs only 1.4 kg and consumes a maximum of 5 watts.

Exo-Mars Rover.

 ASTRON-RM is able to work in two modes:

1) In the active mode of operation, the ADRON-RM requires increased energy consumption, but it is also more sensitive. The device uses a pulsed neutron generator.

2) In the passive mode, it simply registers the neutrons of cosmic rays: when they penetrate the Martian soil, some of them go deeper, but some are reflected from hydrogen containing compounds (primarily water) and then captured by instruments.

This generator is a vacuum tube with electrodes attached to the ends of it: breaking off from one of them, the deuterium particles accelerate and hit the second, a target made on the basis of lithium hydride, leading to the release of a stream of neutrons.

Each pulse activation of the generator creates up to 10 million fast-flying particles, allowing for ten minutes to scan the ground to a depth of 1.5 m and detect water.

There will be a myriad of new findings this decade pertaining to Mars.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.
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