Students Simulate Mission To Mars - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Software // Enterprise Applications
11:57 AM

Students Simulate Mission To Mars

A team of researchers in Utah are learning more about the logistical, mechanical, scientific, and e-mail issues Mars explorers are likely to face.

Two students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who want to go to Mars got the chance to see what it would be like.

Engineering graduate students Zahra Khan and Phillip Cunio, from MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, went to the Mars Society Desert Research Station Feb. 17. They began a two-week stay in a small, round simulator in Utah with a team of researchers who want to learn more about the logistical, mechanical, scientific, and psychological issues Mars explorers are likely to face.

Researchers in simulated spacesuits pass through an airlock before going out into the desert on all-terrain vehicles to sample soil; search for organisms; study survival in the dry, salty desert; and conduct biological field research. E-mail recipients must wait 20 minutes to read messages because that's the time researchers say it takes for radio waves to travel to and from Mars.

Khan examined the logistics of exploring the desert and doing geological and biological research. She has researched entry, descent, and landing systems, which could be more protective than past missions. For example, descents are likely to be very controlled and could involve airbags.

Cunio is researching common requirements and designs for self-sustaining life support and environmental control that can be used on Mars, the moon, and beyond. Cunio also wants to inspire young people's interest in space exploration through his Expedition Epsilon Outreach blog and through live question and answer sessions with students in U.S. and Canadian schools.

The researchers use RFID tags, antennas, and other equipment to keep track of items and coordinate the flow of supplies.

Both MIT students said they would like to be involved in real Mars missions someday, but Khan said that by the time NASA gets there, she could be too old.

"The odds may not be very good," she said. "I think it would be a good idea to send younger people."

Khan said she believes in one-way trips to Mars because it would save fuel and allow more people to visit the Red Planet.

"If you're going to go there, you might as well not waste the resources," she said.

Luckily for Khan, the trip to Utah wasn't one-way. She had to leave the mission early to interview for a job with a European space agency.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
10 Ways to Transition Traditional IT Talent to Cloud Talent
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  11/23/2020
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Can Low Code Measure Up to Tomorrow's Programming Demands?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/16/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
Flash Poll