Washington, March 1 (ANI): An Illinois-based design consulting firm has designed a compact Mars space rover in which astronauts could comfortably work, sleep and exercise for up to 3 weeks at a time on the Red Planet.
According to a report in Discovery News, the team won the "Good Design Award" in the transportation category from The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design last month.
The "advanced concepts" for space vehicles are often conceived from the same sci-fi idea that future space vehicles will have sleek lines and bulbous cabins.
However, the main shortfalls of these types of vehicle are that they are often very large and contain a lot of empty space.
In reality, when transporting anything from Earth to Mars, it needs to be as compact as possible.
"The rover would need to be shipped to Mars in a 'knocked down' state," said Gregg Montgomery, owner of the family-run design consulting firm Montgomery Design International, when speaking with Discovery News.
"There's a lot of wasted space inside vehicles, so the first thing was to design a rover that could be easily assembled when on Mars," he said.
Working with Dr. Steven Casey, of California-based Ergonomic Systems Design, the team was able to assemble a modular vehicle where astronauts could comfortably work, sleep and exercise for up to 3 weeks at a time, allowing them to traverse hundreds of miles.
The vehicle modules are designed to be swapped out depending on the requirements of the mission; including a crane or a laboratory for scientists to do on-site analysis.
This vehicle would need a high degree of autonomy, acting as an emergency base should a Mars habitat need to be evacuated.
There would also be the requirement of a reliable, steady supply of energy, so the use of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) would be preferred.
For convenience, the team suggested having 'Mars standard' RTG batteries that can be plugged into other rovers, equipment and habitats.
Although this rover design includes airlocks to remove the fine dust from spacesuits, the cabin has been designed to be as comfortable as possible so the astronauts can remain inside while operating robotic arms attached to the outside, thereby minimizing dust contamination.
In the year 2037, Earth and Mars will make a close approach and in 2007, NASA signaled that this would be the ideal time to send a manned mission to the Red Planet.
It is hoped that this rover design, or components of it, may be considered for such a mission. (ANI)