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#1 2015-03-04 22:32:56

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 21,910

NASA eyes ion engines for Mars orbiter launching in 2022

NASA eyes ion engines for Mars orbiter launching in 2022

Engineers also want to add ion engines to the orbiter and fly the efficient electrically-powered thruster system to Mars for the first time, testing out a solar-electric propulsion package that officials say will be needed when astronauts visit the red planet.

Ion engines produce just a whisper of thrust, using electric power to ionize atoms of a neutral gas and spit out the particles at high speed. While the drive given by the thrusters is barely noticeable in one instant, they can operate for months or years, burning scant fuel compared to traditional chemical rockets.

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#2 2015-03-06 13:06:29

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,367
Website

Re: NASA eyes ion engines for Mars orbiter launching in 2022

From what little I have read and understood,  didn't the Dawn probe to Vesta and Ceres have ion thrusters?  And the ESA probe with its lander on the comet?  And the JAXA probe Hayabusa?  I think all of those were solar electric plus conventional propulsion,  were they not?

If it works on missions of 7 years to a decade or more to bodies like that,  why the hell would it not work going to Mars?  The only reason it hasn't already been done is that nobody thought they needed it for Mars. 

But I think that's wrong. 

SEP sends cargo to Mars orbit from Earth orbit just fine.  SEP plus conventional sends men (use the SEP to cut transit times).  You'll need a lander,  you'll need artificial gravity-by-spin to stay healthy,  and you'll need a lot of packed supplies since closed life support is just simply not ready (and likely still won't be if we go between 2025 and 2035).   You'll need a solar flare shelter,  use some of the packed supplies and propellant for that.  Given that you will be sending a lot of mass anyway,  there's simply no excuse for a cramped habitat for the crew.

The surface supplies and landers and landing propellant supplies can all be sent unmanned separately,  and slowly.  All you need for the manned part is an orbit to orbit transport,  with as reduced a transit time as we can build. 

While figuring out how to piece all this together into a real design proposal,  you do need to remember one thing as of supreme importance:  there is nothing as expensive as a dead crew.  Applies to civilian/private efforts as much as to government agency efforts. 

The second thing to remember is that there will likely be one and only one government-funded trip to Mars.  You'd better leave a functional base on that very first trip.  Otherwise,  it will be decade upon decade before any private outfit returns. 

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2015-03-06 13:14:22)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#3 2015-03-07 22:15:12

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 21,910

Re: NASA eyes ion engines for Mars orbiter launching in 2022

NASA will launch a telecommunications orbiter to the red planet in 2022 to follow the sample-caching Mars 2020 rover and replace the aging Odyssey craft

A telecommunications orbiter, to launch to Mars in 2022, would replace the 13 year-old Mars Odyssey (pictured here) as the main communications relay for landed missions, NASA"s new Mars czar, Jim Watzin, announced Feb. 24. Like Odyssey, the new probe would also carry scientific instruments.

This Mars 2022 orbiter may use experimental technologies such as high-power solar-electric propulsion or an optical communications package that could greatly improve transmission speed and capacity over radio frequency systems, said Jim Watzin, NASA’s Mars exploration program director.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2015/03/03/n … g-in-2022/

https://astronaut.com/nasa-eyes-new-mar … -for-2022/

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#4 2015-03-08 10:18:25

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,367
Website

Re: NASA eyes ion engines for Mars orbiter launching in 2022

I'm thinking "high-power" solar electric propulsion means one of the newer panel designs with more watts per kilogram of hardware,  coupled with a bigger electric thruster of some significant-factor-larger thrust level.  Of course they can do it.  They should do it.

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#5 2020-11-29 21:49:48

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 21,910

Re: NASA eyes ion engines for Mars orbiter launching in 2022

Seems like I am finding much of what we need long before it gets into building...
NASA's Next Mars Orbiter Is Being Planned for 2022 to help if not replace its current aging orbiting satellites.

The Next Mars Orbiter (NeMO, earlier known as the Mars 2022 orbiter) is a proposed NASA Mars communications satellite with high-resolution imaging payload and two solar-electric ion thrusters

SHARAD (Shallow Radar) looks for liquid or frozen water in the first few hundreds of feet (up to 1 kilometer) of Mars' crust. SHARAD probes the subsurface using radar waves within a 15- to 25-megahertz but we need higher to see deeper.

Perseverance Rover will peer beneath Mars' surface of Mars, RIMFAX can provide a highly detailed view of subsurface structures down to at least 30 feet (10 meters) underground.

NASAs-Perseverance-Rover-to-look-below-Mars-Surface-using-Ground-Penetrating-Radar-480x270.jpg

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/?type=future

Seems the mission never got off the drawing board....

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