Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New breed of space vehicle: Researchers developing conceptual design for a Mars 'hopper'

Date:
November 18, 2010
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
Scientists and engineers in the UK are developing a conceptual motor design for a Mars 'hopping' vehicle which should lead to a greater understanding of the Red Planet.

Screenshot from a simulation showing an 85-hop mission segment on Mars (145 km total traverse with one week between hops).
Credit: Hugo Williams, Richard Ambrosi and Nigel Bannister, University of Leicester

Scientists and engineers at the internationally acclaimed Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester are developing a conceptual motor design for a Mars 'hopping' vehicle which should lead to a greater understanding of the 'Red Planet'.

Their research findings have been published this month by the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Robots exploring Mars can carry scientific instruments that measure the physical and chemical characteristics of the Martian surface and subsurface, analyse the environment and look for evidence of past or present life. Wheeled rovers have made extraordinary discoveries despite only exploring a small fraction of the planet.

The research has an international flavour. The University of Leicester has been working with a number of collaborators including Astrium Ltd in the UK and Center for Space Nuclear Research, Idaho, USA. The focus in the UK has been the development of a large-scale (400 kg) Mars Hopper concept that can fly in 1km 'hops'. This is an exciting concept that should be considered further as a complement to rover and orbital missions.

The Hopper can collect fuel between hops by compressing gas from the Martian atmosphere and can fly quickly between sites, powered by a long-life radioisotope power source. It could therefore study hundreds of locations over a lifetime of several years.

The Leicester research focused on the rocket motor, looking at its size and materials.

Dr Richard Ambrosi, at the Leicester Space Research Centre, commented:

"The improved mobility and range of a hopping vehicle will tell us more about the evolution of Mars and of the Solar System and may answer questions as to whether there was life in the past, whether Mars was wetter in the past and if so where that water went."

Dr Nigel Bannister added: "The Hopper is different from other rovers because of its power source. In one mode the heat source generates electric power to drive a compressor to gather the carbon dioxide propellant from the Martian atmosphere. The heat source then stores thermal energy and injects it into the propellant, which is accelerated out of a rocket nozzle to provide thrust."

Dr Hugo Williams said: "At Leicester we have concentrated on the motor and design features which translate into the performance of the vehicle.

"Our findings have resulted in a hop range of 1km, for a relatively large vehicle with a large suite of scientific instruments on board. We also looked at the geometry and the best materials for the motor core.

"Our interest in the materials aspect is particularly relevant because we are also engaged in collaborative research with our colleagues in Materials Engineering here at Leicester, and Queen Mary University of London to explore how material properties of materials for use in the space nuclear systems of the future can be enhanced through novel processing and manufacturing techniques."

A Royal Society interview with Dr Richard Ambrosi, Dr Hugo Williams and Dr Nigel Bannister is available online at: http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2010/11/11/rspa.2010.0438/suppl/DC2

A video illustrating the concept of the Mars vehicle is available on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grffBimdwUg


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. R. Williams, R. M. Ambrosi, N. P. Bannister. A Mars hopping vehicle propelled by a radioisotope thermal rocket: thermofluid design and materials selection. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2010.0438

Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "New breed of space vehicle: Researchers developing conceptual design for a Mars 'hopper'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101118084046.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2010, November 18). New breed of space vehicle: Researchers developing conceptual design for a Mars 'hopper'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101118084046.htm
University of Leicester. "New breed of space vehicle: Researchers developing conceptual design for a Mars 'hopper'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101118084046.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 14, 2014) The space shuttle replica Independence has been hoisted atop Space Center Houston's shuttle carrier aircraft, creating a monument to the shuttle program which will open to the public next year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins