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Crewed vehicles for Mars exploration - A potential user's guide

Clarke, J., Mann, G. and Wilson, D. (2008) Crewed vehicles for Mars exploration - A potential user's guide. In: 8th Australian Mars Exploration Conference (AMEC) 2008, 4 - 6 July 2008, Adelaide, South Australia



Vehicles are essential for the exploration of Mars beyond the radius of pedestrian sorties by astronauts and to carry out a number of field engineering roles associated with the establishment of Mars stations. A range of vehicle designs have been proposed, both pressurised and unpressurised. This paper reviews the type of vehicles required to support the Mars Oz reference mission from the perspectives of safety, technology base, and mission requirements. Drawing lessons from existing commercial off-road vehicles and the small legacy of successful Moon and Mars surface vehicles we conclude that two basic vehicle types can meet all the mobility and support requirements for the first few Mars missions, a 0.5 tonne unpressurised and a 3 tonne pressurised vehicle. The vehicles can be operated manually, remotely, or semi-autonomously, as required. They will need to be able to operate before, during, and after the period the crew are on Mars. Reconfigurability is highly desirable and should be able to be carried out with a minimum of effort. The vehicles need to operate safely at extended distances from the Mars station. Beyond walk-back distance a minimum of two vehicles will be needed to provide backup in the event of an emergency. Pressurized vehicles should be able to dock with the Mars station. This will facilitate crew transfer under normal operations and may be the only means by which injured crew members can be transferred. An airlock appears desirable for pressurized rovers to minimize loss of gases and heat, reduce the introduction of sand and dust into the interior of the vehicle, and to allow field maintenance of space suits. Other options such as suit ports may also be viable. We identify a number of unresolved questions for future study, many of which could be answered, at least in part, with the Starchaser Marsupial rover, now being constructed.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Information Technology
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