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Canadians Teaming Up to Develop Mars Mission Concepts

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Thu May 3, 2007 9:30 pm
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When a mission to Mars is being developed, mission planners must consider many factors. Space technology advances, scientific needs and objectives, how to deal with distance, communications delays, and landing through the thin Martian atmosphere–all this must converge into a useful, workable mission concept. Canadian companies and researchers are part of an international drive to respond to these and other challenges.

Today, the Canadian Space Agency announced the funding of five teams selected to develop their Mars mission concept proposals. Each team is entitled to a maximum of $250,000 to develop the concept of a scientific mission to Mars, including its moons.

Team members are scientists at universities and companies across Canada and their technologies and concepts include

* A radar satellite to study the geology of Mars
* A rover to search for water erosion and subsurface water that uses a retractable sky camera to see around obstacles
* An orbiter to study the composition and climate of the Martian atmosphere
* A nanosatellite to map Mars’ remnant magnetic field in the south
* A mission to learn more about the origin, composition, and structure of Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons

As we learn more about the evolution of Mars and compare it with that of Earth, we gain profound insight into the development of life-sustaining planets. The Red Planet’s weathered surface may yield clues about the history of liquid water and life on Mars and provide evidence of any current microorganisms. Assessing the planet’s habitability for possible human expedition crews is an equally important task for the survey of resources on Mars.

While the projects advance Canadian research on planetary exploration science and technology, they also help position Canada’s space community among international mission developers. While there is no commitment to developing the proposals beyond the first phase, the Mars mission concepts will be evaluated further by the Agency.

Details of the five proposals are presented in a backgrounder.

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989, the CSA coordinates all civil space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada. The CSA directs its resources and activities through four key thrusts: earth observation, space science and exploration, satellite communications, and space awareness and learning. By leveraging international cooperation, the CSA generates world-class scientific research and industrial development for the benefit of humanity.

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