Author Topic: Meridiani Planum first landing  (Read 1441 times)

Offline Dalhousie

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Meridiani Planum first landing
« on: 03/05/2017 05:12 AM »
Paper discussing the attractions of Meridiani Planum for the first crewed mission to Mars.  Based on presentations at the first landing site workshop last year.

Highlights

• The Meridiani Planum area is an excellent candidate for crewed missions to Mars.

• It provides an accessible and safe area for landing and exploration.

• Potential water resources exist in the form of poly-hydrated magnesium sulphates.

• There are diverse science features that meet crewed Mars mission science goals.

Media story http://www.seeker.com/risks-on-mars-mean-humans-should-follow-the-tracks-of-opportunity-rove-2293053488.html

Abstract http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576516307202
« Last Edit: 03/06/2017 08:59 PM by Dalhousie »
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #1 on: 03/07/2017 09:46 PM »
ABSTRACT

Astronauts working on the surface of Mars have the capability to explore efficiently, rapidly, and flexibly,
allowing them to perform a wide range of field investigations. NASA has begun an open international process to
identify and evaluate candidate locations where crews could land, live and work on the martian surface,
beginning with the First Landing Site/Exploration Zone Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars
in October 2015. Forty seven sites were proposed, including several at or near the Meridiani area, the subject of
this paper. We consider the Meridiani area an excellent candidate for the first missions to Mars. It is accessible,
safe, contains potential water resources in the form of poly-hydrated magnesium sulphates, has diverse science
features with high likelihood of meeting all science goals, has other potential resources and potential for further
longer-ranged exploration. The presence of hardware from previous missions will be of benefit to studies of
materials to martian conditions, assessing the effectiveness of historic planetary protection strategies, and
engaging public interest. Lastly, parts of the Meridiani region have been well studied from the surface by the
Opportunity mission, providing ground truth for orbital data. As one of the best documented regions of Mars
this will allow a “Go where you know” approach for the first crewed missions, especially with regard to safety,
trafficability, and water resource potential.

I have the full paper if people are interested.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #2 on: 03/07/2017 10:05 PM »
For further information, this site has presentations for many potential human landing sites, including 3 at Meridiani:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/mars-human-landing-site-workshop-presentations

Offline shooter6947

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #3 on: 03/07/2017 10:14 PM »
Meridiani:  why explore someplace new when we've already found the flattest, safest parking lot on all of Mars?

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #4 on: 03/07/2017 10:43 PM »
Meridiani:  why explore someplace new when we've already found the flattest, safest parking lot on all of Mars?

Exactly. When it comes to landing, safety first.  Realistically the first crews will almost certainly do to an area with ground truth, especially from rovers.  That means Meridiani, Gusev, or Gale at present.  Maybe Oxia and wherever the 2020 and Chinese rovers go in the future. This paper focusses on Meridiani for that reasons, but the other landing sites are also attractive.

Secondly, there are potentially available water resources in abundance.  Accessible water for ISRU in the second priority. Other potential resources - Basaltic sand, gypsum, aggregate, magnesium, iron - are also present for research.

Subsequent to landing a plethora of new areas will be explored.  The nominal radius of the exploration zone is 100 km from the  landing zone.  This will take explores to Bopolu crater, Iazu crater, much of Miyamoto crater (proposed sites for MSL) with its inverted river channels, up into the southern uplands of Noachian age, with dendritic river valleys and extensive clay alteration, stratigraphic successions higher in the Meridiani basin to the north.

Plus there will be the change to revisit sites that Opportunity only did a reconnaissance of. Potential RSL in Victoria crater, Victoria crater stratigraphy, the entire rim of Endeavour crater with it's hydrothermal alteration, possible gullies, and exposed Noachian rocks.

Examining historic hardware and sites - Opportunity, the Schiaparelli crash site - will also be valuable from a engineering, materials science, and planetary protection perspective.  Who knows, Opportunity may still be functioning!

The good trafficability of Meridiani exploration zone appears to extend for 100s of km in all directions, opening up diverse possibilities for future missions to the site.  Places such as Iani Chaos, Commelin and Firsoff craters, and a large but as yet unnamed drainage network to the south.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #5 on: 03/08/2017 01:20 AM »
For further information, this site has presentations for many potential human landing sites, including 3 at Meridiani:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/mars-human-landing-site-workshop-presentations

Hopefully at the next workshop the Meridiani people will combine resources!
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #6 on: 03/08/2017 04:25 AM »
I'm a Mellas Chasma guy. I was converted from being a Hellas Basin guy (such low altitudes means high radiation shielding, easiest EDL, best thermal transfer, lowest day/night temperature variation, possibility of liquid water, and the earliest spot on Mars to exceed the Armstrong Limit once terraforming commences) by the amazing views and Equatorial location.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #7 on: 03/08/2017 05:33 AM »
I'm a Mellas Chasma guy. I was converted from being a Hellas Basin guy (such low altitudes means high radiation shielding, easiest EDL, best thermal transfer, lowest day/night temperature variation, possibility of liquid water, and the earliest spot on Mars to exceed the Armstrong Limit once terraforming commences) by the amazing views and Equatorial location.

Melas would be an amazing spot.  However landing issues have always meant it has dropped off the list. Much of the floor consists of large debris flows with uncertain trafficability.  Water rich sulphates deposits are some distance from the potential landing zone, possibly too Mars to be a useful resource. Scientifically, access to the stratigraphy exposed in the walls would be difficult, and the chaotic and transported nature of the chasma floor would make interpretation complex.  There is no ground truth and there is unlikely to be any, unless the Chinese or perhaps SpaceX send something there.

But it was proposed as possible site at the workshop by one group http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/explorationzone2015/pdf/1007.pdf
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #8 on: 03/13/2017 02:17 AM »
I had thought more people would be interested in exploring the justifications behind the selection of this site......  ???
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #9 on: 03/13/2017 09:22 AM »
I had thought more people would be interested in exploring the justifications behind the selection of this site......  ???

I am sure interested. But I think we don't have the insight necessary. I know that has not stopped us on other threads but it is really hard for landing sites.

I personally am convinced it will be a site with glacial water. Others, like robotbeat think equatorial with water baked out of regolith.

Selection criteria of NASA might be very different to criteria of SpaceX. Though thankfully NASA provided tons of data that would help SpaceX finding a site fitting their criteria.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #10 on: 03/13/2017 10:11 PM »
I had thought more people would be interested in exploring the justifications behind the selection of this site......  ???

I am sure interested. But I think we don't have the insight necessary. I know that has not stopped us on other threads but it is really hard for landing sites.

I personally am convinced it will be a site with glacial water. Others, like robotbeat think equatorial with water baked out of regolith.

Selection criteria of NASA might be very different to criteria of SpaceX. Though thankfully NASA provided tons of data that would help SpaceX finding a site fitting their criteria.

Different organisations will make their own decisions, although the prime selection criteria will be similar.  Safety first, to ensure successful landing and safe surface activities.  Available resources - solar flux, water, regolith materials.  Sites of interest for science.  So if not Meridiani then I suspect that one of the other sites described at the workshop are likely.  Especially those with existing ground truth for rover or lander missions.

Sulphates may be easier than ice as a water source.  It will be easier to extract, the water will be purer, and there are fewer planetary protection issues.  However there is probably ice at Meridiani and other equatorial locations too, just too deep to show up in the neutron data.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #11 on: 03/15/2017 10:45 PM »
He's a recent HiRISE image that covers part of the exploration zone.  The northern end is the Amazonian flow out ejecta (suggesting water rich regolith) of Bopolu crater.  The hills at the southern end are the rim SE rim of Miyamoto crater, a much larger and much older crater (Noachian)
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #12 on: 03/15/2017 10:52 PM »
I had thought more people would be interested in exploring the justifications behind the selection of this site......  ???

I am sure interested. But I think we don't have the insight necessary. I know that has not stopped us on other threads but it is really hard for landing sites.


It's not harder than anything else we discuss ;)

And we have a lot of data. We relevant orbital data from Mars Express, MGS, MRO, and MO, ground truth from four landers and three rovers.  Plus the landing site selection data and methodologies for those landers and failed landers to draw on, plus future missions.

The Meridiani landing site draws on that orbital data, ground truth from Opportunity, and site selection information from Schiaparelli and Curiosity.  The proposed landing site was one proposed for Curiosity to ensure it met the engineering criteria.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #13 on: 03/15/2017 10:56 PM »
Here's another HiRISE image, this time ip the Noachian uplands to the south.  As the metadata shows it was supposed to have targeted on of the old incised channels, but appears to have missed.  But it shows show the generally rolling nature and thus readily trafficable character of the uplands.

"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Meridiani Planum first landing
« Reply #14 on: 03/15/2017 11:08 PM »
Here's part of a maximum resolution HiRISE image of the proposed landing site, taken from the paper.  It was one proposed for Curiosity.  It's smooth, flat, has a firm substrate of water rich bedrock, and only a thin cover of loose debris to be entrained by the rocket exhaust.  The surface is very similar to large areas traverse by Opportunity to the north east, I have attached an image of that, which I have also taken from the paper.  As argued by the paper, the landing site itself can be boring, it has to be smooth and flat, with nearby potential water resources.  With the ability to travel up to 100km from the landing site, the interesting stuff can be elsewhere.  But as the Opportunity mission has shown, the flat plains are themselves full of interest (third figure, not from paper).
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

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