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NASA to Build Space Stations on Mars by 2028

Aug 17, 2016 01:37 AM EDT
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NASA's mission to Mars might be facing delays due to a government audit, but that isn't stopping the space agency from laying out plans. Latest reports suggest that NASA is set to build a space station in orbit above the red planet by 2028. Such plans were outlined by Lockheed Martin and Deep Space Systems Inc.

The "Mars Base Camp" will be used by astronauts in preparation for the manned landing. Astronauts will be living on the space station for a year to collect information about Mars.

"Before we send people to the surface of Mars, we owe it to that crew, to ourselves, to understand if there's life on the planet and if there's anything that's toxic to humans. This mission will do those two very fundamental things," stated Steve Bailey, chief engineer of Deep Space Systems Inc. in a report by Space.com.

In Lockheed Martin's plan, a 132-ton space station will be constructed around the red planet. It would be able to host six astronauts in the span of a year. This is quite small compared to the International Space Station, which weighs 440 tons.

Aboard the space station, astronauts would remotely operate on rovers. The proposed 2020 Mars rover reportedly features new technology such as a special camera and a microphone that may record all the sounds in Mars. Rover deputy project manager, Matthew Wallace states that the Mars 2020 rover is "going to produce some of the most exciting imagery."

"The entry, descent and landing [EDL] cameras are, in my mind, first and foremost engineering tools," explained Wallace.

The rover's SuperCam will provide chemical composition analysis and mineralogy data as well as imaging. In addition, it would detect the presence of organic compounds that may be present on Mars even from a distance. On the other hand, the rover's microphones will be used as a public-outreach tool. Sound is equally important in engineering diagnostics according to Wallace.

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