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> Tethered Balloon Mars Probe Idea, Why not? Valles Marineris
Posted: Mar 6 2013, 05:15 PM

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Well, I was thinking you could have a lander with a tether (high test fishing line or kite string) and battery powered fans. It would be like a small blimp I guess.

The point here is you could take pictures of the INSIDE of the canyon at arbitrary altitudes and actually see the real geology.

You may say wind would be a problem, but the momentum is proportional to mass, so since mars' atmosphere is so thin, I figure the strongest winds on Mars have momentum equivalent to about a 30mph wind on Earth. So the tethered flyer should be ok to go most of the time. With a tether you can control altitude much better than without a tether.

Of course, some problems are tangling and perhaps cutting on sharp rocks of the canyon wall.

Could it be done, or are there better options for aerial probes which may be able to explore the canyons?

To me the native canyons make more geological sense to explore than meteor craters, because they are presumably caused entirely by Martian forces, as opposed to cosmic impacts. This would mean the geology and mineralogy would be entirely Martian, so more useful for understand ages and past hydrology of the planet.

Posted: Aug 27 2013, 05:41 PM


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I am slightly confused, are you suggesting a blimp attached to a lander?

Why not have a lone blimp? The tether is weight that must be lifted so your blimp would have to be larger than just a lone blimp. Also, Mariner Valley is pretty deep, so your tether would be huge. When you have a large tether wouldn't its large momentum drag your lander around unless you made it very heavy or complicated its design with anchors?

While the thin atmosphere makes the issues with wind easier, it makes blimps impractical. Mars' atmosphere has a density of 0.02 kg/m^3. So a lifting gas must have a lifting power of less than that (because lifting power is based on the mass difference). This means a massive (for being carried on a spacecraft) blimp with maybe 100 cubic meters of lifting gas would only be able to carry 2 kg of material.

This would be practical for a planet with a thicker atmosphere. A blimp would be great for exploring venus using instruments. And it would be great on titan, maybe with instruments on a tether that hangs from the blimp.
Posted: Aug 28 2013, 04:48 PM

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So, I guess the question is whether we can make balloons that can thrive at ~50,000 feet on Earth?
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Posted: Aug 29 2013, 12:45 AM

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