ABSTRACT

Every big nation has tried several times to go to the mighty Mars but has failed more than once except for ISRO who went on to become the first nation to reach Mars in their first attempt. Going to Mars helps us to get one step closer to the age-old question humanity has been asking since its inception “Are we alone, is there somewhere someone like us?

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NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Going to Mars is not at all easy, it requires a lot of dedication and ingenuity. To date, there have been 56 missions so far and out of that 26 missions have been successful, giving us a success rate of only 46% which is quite low considering the fact that so many people are behind it and the money it takes to get the mission done. Currently, one lander named InSight and one rover “Curiosity” is present on Mars with another one PERSEVERANCE on its way.

There are 3 types of objects within a mission that are sent to Mars:

I. ORBITER
A spacecraft that is designed to go around in orbit of a planet, especially one that does not land. Just like the satellite that revolves around the Earth. Although there are six orbiters currently orbiting Mars.
India’s first Mars mission was an orbiter.

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An Orbiter Above Mars

II. LANDER
A spacecraft designed to land on the surface of Mars and remains stationary for the remainder of the mission. These type of missions doesn’t allow the object to roam around the surface.
The recently launched “InSight” falls into this category.
InSight stands for InteriorExploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy & Heat Transport.

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1st Photo of InSight Lander Just After its Landing

III. ROVER
It is a motor vehicle that has the ability to use its wheels to roam around the surface of another planet, like Mars. All the below-described rovers fall in this category.
All the four SojournerSpiritOpportunity, and Curiosityfall into this category.

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All 4 Rovers in a Single Picture

7 MINUTES OF TERROR

Itis a famous acronym given to the situation that arises during reentry on Mars after traveling millions of miles through the emptiness of space. A special heat shield protects the payload from burning up during the process, as it is traveling at a speed of 13,000 mph.

NASA’s Video of 7 Minutes of Terror

Mars atmosphere is about 100 times thinner than that of Earth which requires a larger parachute than usual to decrease the speed of the payload. It is a fully automated system because sending and receiving signal takes at least 3 minutes one way at the speed of light if we were to send a live signal it would be too late to react.

The whole 7 minutes of terror comprises entry, descent, and landing (EDL).


ROVERS BY NASA

1. SPIRIT (Mars Exploration Rover- A)

Spirit landed on the surface of Mars on the 3rd of January 2004. Spirit landed on the impact crater Gusev on 24th January 2004. It traveled about 7.73 km (4.8 mi). The primary was the spirit was powered was through solar panels, it recharged the batteries during the day while working and kept enough battery during the night to survive the cold of -40°C.

The rover was stuck in a sand trap at an angle that prevented its battery from getting recharged. Although NASA tried to establish communication until the next year. Its last communication with Earth was on 24th May 2011.

For more information, read this medium article: 
https://medium.com/@sanujraj/spirit-opportunity-42cd674c76bf

2. OPPORTUNITY (Mars Exploration Rover- B)

Opportunity landed on the surface of Mars on the 24th of January 2004. Spirit landed on Meridiani Planum on 25th January 2005, three weeks after the Spirit. It traveled about 45.16 km (28.06 mi), breaking all previous records. Spirit and Opportunity were only sent for 90 sols but they ended up lasting much more than that.

Opportunity mission is considered one of NASA’s most successful ventures.

For more information, read this medium article: 
https://medium.com/@sanujraj/spirit-opportunity-42cd674c76bf

3. CURIOSITY

Curiosity landed on the surface of Mars on the 6th of August 2012. It was the first rover to be powered by nuclear energy. This was done to eliminate the dependency of rovers on batteries. Because were the primary reason why the previous rovers couldn’t go longer.

Also, this restricted the life span of the rover means it can’t be extended any longer unlike the previous rovers.

For more information, read this medium article: 
https://medium.com/@sanujraj/curiosity-a6d34f1427f9

4. PERSEVERANCE

Perseverance is scheduled to launch on the surface of Mars on the 18th of February 2021. Remember it is scheduled, it may change depending upon the conditions. It takes around 9 months to get there if you take the shortest route.

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Mars 2020 (Perseverance)

Perseverance is based on the Curiosity rover, which enables NASA to save millions in Research and Development. It’s basically a mission that is built where curiosity left along with improvement in its shortcomings. It uses the same sky crane system for landing.

For more information, read this medium article: 
https://medium.com/@sanujraj/perseverance-mars-2020-45ccf192ecf2


SpaceX WANTS TO GO TO MARS

SpaceX is a development program initiated by Elon Musk in order to facilitate the eventual colonization of Mars. It was one of the first private company to launch their own reusable rocket to space. It is also the first private company to launch astronauts to the ISS from the US soil. These missions are carried out through different classes of rocket each capable of uplifting different classes of payload.

Official website of SpaceX: https://www.spacex.com/human-spaceflight/mars/

Official website of Blue Origin: https://www.blueorigin.com/

It is also said that the one who will start the race for space mining will be the first Trillionaire of the world because there is a limitless supply of some of the materials out there. It has the power of controlling the future share market and eventually the economy. So Billionaire’s like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are eyeing these opportunities. Bringing any one material can reduce the price of that material aggressively.
It is a whole new company genre that we are mission right now but will start in the near future and will change how we live on Earth.

Refer to this brilliant video for more information:

Credit: Bloomberg Quicktake Originals

They are currently building a Starlink network in space comprises of at least 2,000 satellites that aim to provide internet service to remote areas of the world where conventional network or optical fibers can’t reach. It is aiming at a latency of less than 20 ms which is on par with the regular wired network. This project is directly aimed at generating revenue for SpaceX to fund their upcoming missions and projects.

HISTORY

SpaceX has a history of many failed attempts, their first three launches were a failure but the founder of the company Elon Musk never gave up, he and their team went for another launch but this time it failed it would mean the end of their company but thankfully they succeded. SpaceX was started in 2001 by acquiring “Mars Oasis”.
As early as 2007, Elon Musk stated a plan for eventually enabling human exploration and settlement of Mars.

At the time of writing this article, SpaceX claims to go to Mars within 6 months from now. He has also gone on to announce his first customer who is a Billionaire named Yusaka Maezawa, the founder of online Japanese clothing company Zozo.


WHAT IS “SOL”?

Sol is a solar day on Mars similar to that of an Earth day. A sol is slightly longer, lasting 24 hours 39 minutes and 35 seconds. This is the reason why the people working on these missions have to start their day 20 minutes late than the previous day and this cycle keeps on going forever. For example, if their sol 1 starts from 12:30 am then the next day on Earth will start from 12:50 am for sol 2 and so on.
A Martian year consists of 668 sols or 687 Earth days.

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Degree of Rotation & Time to Complete One Day of Different Planets

Spirit and Opportunity were supposed to last about 90 sols but they lasted much more than that. Spirit lasted 2208 sols (about 6.04 years) and Opportunity lasted 5650 sols (about 15.47 years).

Whenever a spacecraft lands on the surface of Mars it’s counting of days start from sol 0 rather than sol 1, this is done because one sol is given for all the setup that has to be done before the start of the actual mission and the next sol is considered as the fruitful one, which is sol 1.


SPECIALITY OF MARS MISSIONS

  • Just like Earth, the degree of rotation of Mars is 25 degrees which enables it to have different seasons all year around. The degree of rotation changes over an extended period of time. The temperature ranges from +150°C to -60°C in a single day. All the missions going there have to deal with these changes in temperature every day.
  • We all are spending so many resources to go to Mars and not any other planet because Mars is very Earth-like in dimensions, the only downside is that its air consists of 95 % CO2.
    Unlike Mars, Mercury, and Venus are very hot. Jupiter is a gas giant and doesn’t have a surface to land on. Objects in Saturn’s ring create a large disturbance for any object to land on its surface. Just like Jupiter Uranus and Neptune don’t have a true surface so landing here is out of the picture. Out of all these only Mars is where we can land safely.
  • Whenever a Lander or a rover mission is sent to Mars. The payload is completely sterilized so as to kill all the germs and cells. This is done so that we don’t mistakenly infect a planet and introduce life to it. This process is done every time window in 26 months. As a matter of fact, only one window is available every 26 months which allows Mars and Earth to be the closest for anything to be sent to Mars.
  • NASA has sent lander on Mars as early as 1975. The payload sent was a lander which was named “Viking”. NASA sent two Landers in a span of a month named Viking 1 and Viking 2, each consisting of an orbiter and a lander. Viking 1 operated for over six years before it was shut down and Viking 2 was operated for four years until the relay link was lost. It was the first object to land on Mars.
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Actual Landing Site of the Viking Lander (In a Boulder Field)
  • As stupid it may sound but NASA lost an entire mission because of the marking system they choose for their mission. The software created by Lockheed Martin was programmed to read the force in the Imperial unit of a pound while the other software in the same chain which was created by NASA was programmed to read for the Metric system of Newton. The difference produced in the final result caused enough difference to burn down the spacecraft upon premature reentry.
Video of NASA’s Mistake

For a complete and a thorough the experience of all the things talked above:

Great Video, Trust me You will be Amazed and Thrilled After You’ve Watched it.

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