A Dragon On Mars By 2020

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ouchdown! Once the rockets bring the craft close to Earth, four extendable legs allow it to land.

It could bring samples from Mars to Earth for the first time. Nasa employees have revealed details of a ‘budget’ plan to send a SpaceX capsule to the red planet in 2020 to return samples.

Elon Musk has backed the idea – and even tweeted images of what the mission would look like. The ‘Red Dragon’ project was developed by a team at Nasa. It would grab samples collected by the space agency’s 202 rover and return them to Earth.

The sample-return effort would keep costs and complexity down by using SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket and a modified version of the company’s robotic Dragon cargo capsule, the concept’s developers say.

Red Dragon is ‘technically feasible with the use of these emerging commercial technologies, coupled with technologies that already exist,’ Andy Gonzales, of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said during a presentation with the space agency’s Future In-Space Operations (FISO) working group.

The Red Dragon team has developed the concept independently, without any involvement or endorsement by SpaceX, Gonzales said. The adapted Red Dragon would include a robotic arm, extra fuel tanks and a central tube that houses a rocket-powered Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) and an Earth Return Vehicle (ERV).

A Dragon on Mars: The mission would grab samples collected by Nasa's 2020 rover and return them to Earth.

A Dragon on Mars: The mission would grab samples collected by Nasa’s 2020 rover and return them to Earth.

However, Musk took to social media to back the project – even releasing these images showing what the mission would look like. ‘Dragon 2 is designed to land on any surface (liquid or solid) in the solar system. Am glad to see people thinking about applications!,’ he tweeted.

‘In expendable mode, Falcon Heavy can send a fully loaded Dragon to Mars or a light Dragon to Jupiter’s moons. Europa mission wd be cool,’ he said. Musk, one of the world’s best-known entrepreneurs believes the technology could be used to make Mars more hospitable.

Elon Musk has hypothesised Mars could be heated up quickly by dropping nuclear weapons over its poles and said he would like to visit the red planet one day. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO agrees that Mars would be an inhospitable place to call home in its current state.

Mars’ atmosphere is 96 per cent carbon dioxide and less than one per cent oxygen, meaning any human who steps foot on the planet will have to wear a suit at all times. They will also have to cope with its gravity, which is 63 per cent weaker than on Earth so that someone who weighs 100lbs (45kg) here, would only weigh 38lbs (17kg) on Mars.

The average temperature on Mars is -62°C (-81°F), with lows reaching -176°C (284°F). Despite these harsh conditions, Musk told CBS’ new Late Show with Stephen Colbert that Mars is ‘a fixer upper of a planet’ that could be made by Earth-like if it were warmer, USA Today reported.

He also said his rocket firm, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, will be capable of ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station in two or three years. At present, SpaceX’ Falcon rockets deliver cargo to the ISS.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO agrees that Mars would be an inhospitable place to call home in its current state. The race is on to send man to the red planet and potential colonise it

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO agrees that Mars would be an inhospitable place to call home in its current state.

He explained that this could be achieved slowly – with the gradual release of greenhouse gases, to make a process like global warming on Earth – or quickly, using nuclear bombs. Nuclear weapons emit large amounts of thermal radiation as visible, infrared and ultraviolet light, known as ‘flash’.

On Earth, they can cause burns, eye injuries and fires, but the effects may be different on Mars. Heat accounts for between 35 and 45 per cent of the energy released by the explosion, meaning a huge amount of heat is generated incredibly quickly, which could potentially be harnessed to heat up the Martian atmosphere, according to Musk’s fledgling theory.

Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden believes that colonising Mars is essential to ensure the survival of our species. ‘It’s important for the preservation of the species, and I want to make sure that my grand-daughters, and great-great-grandaughters, have the opportunity to go there,’ he said. The race is on to send a man on a 140 million mile (225 million km) trip to Mars and to potentially colonise the red planet.

President Barack Obama predicted in 2010 that a manned Mars mission will happen in the mid-2030s. Currently, no-one else has suggested as audacious-a-move as using nuclear weapons to geo-engineer a planet, and the Mars One mission slated to launch in 2016, would rely on small pods or ‘habitats’.

A privately funded, nonprofit project, Mars One was set up by Dutch energy entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp and European Space Agency scientist Arno Wielders, but its ambitious aims have been criticised by others. It aims to create a permanent human settlement on Mars starting in 2027. Under the plans, a new four-person crew will depart every two years on a one-way trip.

Mars One has yet to select an aerospace company to build the spacecraft, but says it will be built using existing technology. Colonists would live in pods and have 538 square feet (50 square metres) each and a total of more than 2153 square feet (200 square metres) combined interior space, according to Mars One.

It says: ‘Within the settlement are inflatable components which contain bedrooms, working areas, a living room and a ‘plant production unit’, where they will grow greenery. ‘They will also be able to shower as normal, prepare fresh food in the kitchen, wear regular clothes, and, in essence, lead typical day-to-day lives.’ But they would need to wear suits to step outside. Source Daily Mail



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