Mars-X: Exploring Mars from the Martian Orbit

Mars-X logo

Mars-X logo

During the academic year 2012-2013, Phillippa and Angélique were involved in the ISU (International Space University) Team Project named Mars-X. Every year ISU proposes to its students to work in teams on a space related problem from an interdisciplinary point of view.

This team project has been developed by 27 students representing 16 different nationalities during 6 months with the support of two generous sponsors: Lockheed Martin and NASA.

The Mars-X mission statement is:

“Mars-X proposes a scenario to explore Mars by landing humans on a Martian moon and returning them safely to Earth, in order to prepare the foundation for the first human mission to the surface of the Red Planet.”

Mars-X proposes orbiting Phobos, to land some of the crew on the surface of Phobos and also to remotely operate scientific experiments on the surface of Mars. Orbiting Phobos is a different solution to furthering our technology to land humans on Mars than other existing propositions.

Mars-X proposes to step by Phobos before going to Mars

Mars-X proposes to step by Phobos before going to Mars

It advocates innovative technologies and scientific experiments such as nuclear thermal propulsion, artificial gravity and, advanced radiation shielding. It also addresses side issues such as: political, economics, ethics, legal, fundraising, education, international cooperation and, Private-Public Partnerships. Key researches focuses on the Martian geology, In-Situ Resource Utilization, the atmosphere, radiation, volcanism and ultimately life on Mars.

Why land on Phobos instead of Mars?

The Mars-X mission is positioned as a step towards going to Mars. Phobos has the advantage that it is both a moon and an asteroid. This mission will contribute to demonstrating the feasibility of humans landing on the Martian surface.

Exploring the surface of Phobos will benefit humankind. Going to Phobos will be a great achievement for humans involving a lot of technological and scientific challenges. Landing on Phobos is an opportunity to test new technologies and extend the boundaries of human knowledge.

Moreover, it would be a great opportunity to test international cooperation between participating countries and Public-Private Partnerships. Mars-X would involve governments, space agencies and the private sector. Furthermore, the mission aims to increase public interest for space missions. It plans to achieve this partly by broadcasting a TV show which monitors crew achievements to show the public the process of the journey.

We invite you to visit the Mars-X website which contains the full documents, the executive summary, videos and, pictures.

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3 thoughts on “Mars-X: Exploring Mars from the Martian Orbit

  1. Is there a platform where we can discuss these ideas with the team? More specifically, I’m curious to understand how a mission to Phobos will “contribute to demonstrating the feasibility of humans landing on the Martian surface.” I had a quick discussion with your team member Sireesh about this a few months back around lunch.

  2. Good question Christopher, main benefit would be the reusable modular infrastructure we leave at Phobos and on Mars together with the knowledge about solar radiation risks (mitigation) and Phobos is the perfect anchor for Martian space elevator

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