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Thread: Ballooning on Mars

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    27,514

    Ballooning on Mars

    SUMMARY: NASA is planning on sending rovers to crawl around the surface of Mars for the foreseeable future, but there's only so much terrain they can explore. Global Aerospace Corporation is proposing a future balloon mission that would float just a few kilometres above the surface of Mars, and explore a much larger territory in tremendous detail. The balloon would trail a wing beneath that would work like a rudder, and allow it to steer itself in the Martian winds.

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    What do you think about this story? post your comments below.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
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    2,138
    The concept is interesting. I'd be a bit apprehensive if another planet-wide Martian dust storm kicked up, but I think it is possible.

    Several years ago on the previous bulletin board someone posted a link to a film of a NASA funded prototype; a radio controlled plane. It was not unlike a motorized RC glider, and designed to fly in the Mars atmosphere. However, a balloon might be able to more effectively hover over an area.

    My favorite balloon-like probes were depicted in the Discovery Channelís hypothetical, speculative documentary titled "Alien Planet". These were inflatable floating balloon-like robot rovers with twin turbofan solar powered engines and manipulative arms. They were depicted as floating at various altitudes and speeds, and also close to the ground. Although that was hypothetical and set in "the future", I feel that we are very close technologically to building something akin to those probes, for Mars. (Much closer than traveling to a planet outside our solar system.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    31
    It looks like we are still in the Cold War. The article says that 2 balloons previously flew in the Venus atmosphere, without attributing this to the Soviet space program.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    261

    Skeptical

    Now I think it would be great to Balloon on Mars, but I believe it will not be possible.
    Balloons work by displacing air with a light gas (hot air or helium/hydrogen) they work great on earth as the density of the air is about 1kg per cubic meter so each cubic meter has the ability to lift up to 1kg of mass, however the density of the martian atmosphere is about 1/100th of the density of earth, meaning to lift 1kg of mass would take 100 times the envelope capacity. There is a plus as the gravity of mars is a bit less than earth, but I think any balloon on mars would struggle to lift it's own envelope let alone any instrumentation.

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