Martian polar expeditions: problems and solutions

Cockell, Charles S. (2001). Martian polar expeditions: problems and solutions. Acta Astronautica, 49(12) pp. 693–706.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0094-5765(01)00142-4

Abstract

The Martian polar ice caps are regions of substantial scientific interest, being the most dynamic regions of Mars. They are volatile sinks and thus closely linked to Martian climatic conditions. Because of their scale and the precedent set by the past history of polar exploration on Earth, it is likely that an age of polar exploration will emerge on the surface of Mars after the establishment of a capable support structure at lower latitudes. Expeditions might be launched either from a lower latitude base camp or from a human-tended polar base. Based on previously presented expeditionary routes to the Martian poles, in this paper a "spiral in–spiral out" unsupported transpolar assault on the Martian north geographical pole is used as a Reference expedition to propose new types of equipment for the human polar exploration of Mars. Martian polar "ball" tents and "hover" modifications to the Nansen sledge for sledging on CO2-containing water ice substrates under low atmospheric pressures are suggested as elements for the success of these endeavours. Other challenges faced by these expeditions are quantitatively and qualitatively addressed

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