Author Topic: Station On Phobos  (Read 18892 times)

Online sanman

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Station On Phobos
« on: 04/29/2016 09:13 AM »
Is there a case for establishing a manned station on Phobos before seeking a significant permanent manned presence on Mars? What would be required to establish such a station?

The idea would be to have personnel at this Phobos Station tele-operating robotic equipment on the Martian surface to construct the permanent base on Mars. People would aIso be able to shuttle between Phobos and the Martian surface to carry out exploration. The Phobos Station would initially be completely re-supplied from Earth, while trying to transition to Mars ISRU. Perhaps it could also serve as a springboard for missions to the asteroid belt, including asteroid ISRU.

This might permit more extensive tele-robotic exploration of the Martian surface for resources before deciding where to situate a permanent Mars base/colony.

So perhaps this station would be like an ISS farther away from home, but afforded protection by Phobos regolith.

What are the pro's, cons, and challenges for this approach?
« Last Edit: 04/29/2016 09:16 AM by sanman »

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #1 on: 04/29/2016 09:25 AM »

What are the pro's, cons, and challenges for this approach?

Assuming you don't have an LV large enough to launch most of your ship at once, it lets missions sized for SLS conduct manned missions to Martian space for less launches. Your landers can be less sophisticated, indeed, landing most of the components required for a Phobos base would be significantly easier.

The cons include minimal gravity, and a lack of true simulation of the Martian environment. A Phobos base would be more similar to a large asteroid base than Mars itself.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #2 on: 04/29/2016 10:01 AM »
With SLS type capabilities it may make sense, it would make things easier. Biggest problem would be very long microgravity trips. But these are part of NASA mission plans anyway. Alsowithout local water more supplies need to be shipped, but not too bad assuming closed loop ECLSS.

With MCT type capabilities direct to Mars would be easier, assuming fuel ISRU is prepositioned. If water and CO2 can be sourcedon Phobos fuel ISRU would be possible there too.  With fuel from Phobos less fuel is needed over all because the fuel for TEI would not need to be lifted up from Mars. It would enable larger payloads back to earth too.

Offline alexterrell

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #3 on: 04/29/2016 10:12 AM »
Absolutely yes, but I've been saying that for years.

Some threads:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=18339.0 is one of the earlier ones.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38158.0
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19308.msg498003#msg498003 where I outlined a route-map in 2009. This basically involves having a permanent base on Phobos, with ISRU fuel and food production, and manufacturing. This base later colonises Mars.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=18759.msg477151#msg477151 This is about big habitats on Phobos, which is one of the things that makes it so attractive.

Ideally, we'd like to know a bit more about Phobos:
- Is there water
- Are there organic materials we can use to make plastics and hydrocarbons?
- How can we deal with the regolith - is Phobos a loose rubble pile?

Hence we need an exploration vehicle there as soon as possible.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #4 on: 04/29/2016 10:46 AM »
Ideally, we'd like to know a bit more about Phobos:
- Is there water
- Are there organic materials we can use to make plastics and hydrocarbons?
- How can we deal with the regolith - is Phobos a loose rubble pile?

Hence we need an exploration vehicle there as soon as possible.

Absolutely, yes.

Though, assuming MCT, I would do this not as a first step. But I would appreciate, if NASA did this ASAP.

Offline Impaler

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #5 on: 04/30/2016 12:31 AM »
The primary long term advantage to a Station on Phobos is as a logistical hub where interplanetary craft doing the long haul between Earth and Mars (probably with SEP) can exchange cargo, passengers and propellants with surface-2-orbit shuttle powered by conventional chemical propellants.

This would make it similar to McMurdo Station in Antarctica which serves as the American logistical hub.

Online savuporo

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #6 on: 04/30/2016 12:34 AM »
Is there a case for establishing a manned station on Phobos before seeking a significant permanent manned presence on Mars? What would be required to establish such a station?

This will not end well ..


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Online redliox

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #7 on: 04/30/2016 08:17 AM »
I love the Martian moons, and certainly would support visiting them.  Personally, I favor Deimos over Phobos because it is closer to synchronous orbit as well as the gravity well edge; both of which would be a boon to orbiting craft; Phobos of course is more scientifically interesting and easier to reach Mars.  The odds of visiting them after seeing Mars are good, but setting up a permanent habitat is more difficult to figure.

The Flexible Plan NASA's currently following favors orbital vehicles.  Because of weak gravity, the same vehicles can double as asteroid/Martian moon landers with minimal tinkering.  Currently the NASA idea to orbit Mars include a Phobos habitat to stay at.  However, that could easily change with politics, and if Red Dragon proves equipment (not crews, but definitely habs) can be directly landed on Mars, NASA might switch funds for a Mars camp instead of a Phobos station.

If a Phobos station is cobbled together, I'd assume it'd be built first in orbit and then fixed to the moon; dust in micro-gravity would be a titanic pain.  Taking the Bigelow ideas for a Lunar station, which likewise would be assembled in orbit before landing it in once piece, could easily be implemented for Phobos (and Deimos).  There could be surface science for the moon, remote observations on Mars with perhaps telerobotics, and even the return vehicles could dock to the station.

Pros: Easily compatible with orbital missions;unique 'asteroid' science with some Mars science (including telerobotics); potentially useful staging point (at either moon)

Cons: Less desirable than Mars camp; micro-gravity and radiation effects; redundant rather than essential v.s. Mars

I believe in any case all that's genuinely needed is an orbital vehicle to visit Phobos.  A habitat is basically the same thing pinned to the moon; you only really need it if the visit lasts more than 30 days (and, especially if the crew are otw home, shorter visits are more likely).  IMO a dedicated habitat is unnecessary, but ultimately it will depend on how NASA's plans get revised in the near future, especially in light of a Red Dragon landing bypassing the orbital route.
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Online sanman

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #8 on: 05/01/2016 10:10 AM »
If a manned presence were established on Phobos for the purpose of tele-operating equipment on the Martian surface in lieue of having people down on the planet, what kind of savings would that provide?

I'm also then wondering how to quantify a meaningful comparison: 
$/kg-to-Phobos vs $/kg-to-Mars?
MJ/kg-to-Phobos vs MJ/kg-to-Mars?
« Last Edit: 05/01/2016 10:14 AM by sanman »

Offline alexterrell

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #9 on: 05/02/2016 10:17 AM »
If a manned presence were established on Phobos for the purpose of tele-operating equipment on the Martian surface in lieue of having people down on the planet, what kind of savings would that provide?

I'm also then wondering how to quantify a meaningful comparison: 
$/kg-to-Phobos vs $/kg-to-Mars?
MJ/kg-to-Phobos vs MJ/kg-to-Mars?

It's about 500m/s more delta V to reach Phobos than Mars, but the Mars entry system tends to weigh more than its payload - so at least doubles the cost and increases risk.

Then there's the issue of Mars to Earth, versus Phobos to Earth. The latter is easy. The former needs some level of ISRU. It is probably not feasible to do Mars to Earth direct without hydrogen. Whereas Mars to Phobos can be done with Carbon monoxide fuel, and at Phobos the crew could rendez-vous before heading home.

In fact, with Phobos ISRU, you could have a reusable lander making several trips to different points on the Mars surface. This would effectively allow multiple exploration trips before deciding on a first surface base.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #10 on: 05/02/2016 01:49 PM »
If the Phobos ISRU is reusable when the mass of fuel produced is about twice the mass of the ISRU equipment then it probably becomes worthwhile using the ISRU for Mars landings. Bringing things from Earth is very expensive.

Offline HotFyre

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #11 on: 05/19/2016 04:16 PM »
I think this is a good idea. We can, for instance, have 2 stations: one on Phobos, and one on Mars. This might be helpful in many ways.
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Offline Jim

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #12 on: 05/19/2016 05:20 PM »
If a manned presence were established on Phobos for the purpose of tele-operating equipment on the Martian surface in lieue of having people down on the planet, what kind of savings would that provide?


Why?  Can teleoperate from earth.

Online sanman

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #13 on: 05/19/2016 05:24 PM »
If a manned presence were established on Phobos for the purpose of tele-operating equipment on the Martian surface in lieue of having people down on the planet, what kind of savings would that provide?


Why?  Can teleoperate from earth.

Well, I guess I meant realtime tele-operation -- or do you feel that's unnecessary?

Offline Jim

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #14 on: 05/19/2016 05:26 PM »
 Or just land on Mars.

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #15 on: 05/19/2016 05:46 PM »
Phobos operations are the Apollos 8 and 10 to landing on Mars's Apollo 11.  A full dress rehearsal mission - with useful science content including Phobos and Deimos exploration (much simpler lander required) and operation of assets on Mars, especially sample collection.  Imagine for instance sample collection of polar volatiles, with maybe a 48 hour travel time to the Phobos and/or orbital base for quick analysis rather than trying to keep a cryogenic sample in good shape for an 8 month trip to Earth.  That would be a really good precursor to the first Mars landing.  Probably essential, I would suggest, just like Apollos 8 and 10.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #16 on: 05/20/2016 07:12 AM »
AIUI Phobos may be a dust coated rubble pile with tidal issues. Not sure that's a stable platform for a base.
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Offline K-P

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #17 on: 05/20/2016 07:45 AM »
AIUI Phobos may be a dust coated rubble pile with tidal issues. Not sure that's a stable platform for a base.

And because of this uncertainty I find it un-be-lie-vab-le that we still have not found time, money & interest to send even a modest lander / orbiter to Phobos or Deimos...! Those moons are near Mars, are two interesting targets on their own, are also asteroids, give possibility to do Mars observations at the same time, give knowledge for future manned mission... Looking at all this, it seems so weird NASA has no interest at all for those Martian moons.

OK, Russians have tried, but...

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #18 on: 05/20/2016 07:49 AM »
Phobos is geologically interesting in it's own right - probably more so than most free-range asteroids. And any rumours of it's instability I feel would be greatly exaggerated. And some feel Deimos would be a better location for a base because of it's lower delta-v requirements. But I'd prefer the view from Phobos! :) Putting a station down in Stickney crater would be a good shield from a lot of cosmic radiation. Also; unless Space X cracks the problem of landing vehicles heavier than 10 tons on Mars for a reasonable cost, most any large scale manned lander is going to be an expensive, unfunded fantasy at this point :(

NOTE: There are some other threads here on this and very similar subjects - have a look around...

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38487.0;all

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36977.0;all
« Last Edit: 05/20/2016 10:22 AM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Station On Phobos
« Reply #19 on: 05/20/2016 01:26 PM »
Phobos operations are the Apollos 8 and 10 to landing on Mars's Apollo 11.  A full dress rehearsal mission - with useful science content including Phobos and Deimos exploration (much simpler lander required) and operation of assets on Mars, especially sample collection.  Imagine for instance sample collection of polar volatiles, with maybe a 48 hour travel time to the Phobos and/or orbital base for quick analysis rather than trying to keep a cryogenic sample in good shape for an 8 month trip to Earth.  That would be a really good precursor to the first Mars landing.  Probably essential, I would suggest, just like Apollos 8 and 10.

Such missions are not needed and would be a waste of resources.  Actually, they would not be like Apollo 8 & 10 because MOR (the Martian equivalent of LOR) is not likely going to be the conop (example, Mars Direct doesn't use MOR) and hence the missions would be dead ends. 
« Last Edit: 05/20/2016 01:29 PM by Jim »

Tags: Mars Phobos Deimos cubesats