The Mars BioSat Project

3/8/2010 9:53:30 PM

by Josh Gigantino

 

The Mars Gravity Biology Satellite has been a decade-long educational and research effort, with contributions made by many institutions. It was originally started by Robert Zubrin and the Mars Society; later the project was run as an eductional design exercise headed by MIT with Georgia Tech, University of Brisbane and others participating. The student-run project achieved a successful delta-PDR and conducted flight trials on a Zero Gravity Corp parabolic aircraft.

MarsDrive is dedicated to advancing space activities in general (and specifically the settlement and exploration of Mars). Our interaction with the MarsGravity team over the past several years has made it possible for us to revive the MarsGravity Biology Satellite project as Mars BioSat.

The satellite is intended to carry a cargo of mice loaded in a spacecraft that will spin to simulate Martian gravity (0.38 g). The animals will be monitored remotely during their 5-week stay (or longer) in low Earth orbit, and the spacecraft will also collect body wastes for later analysis. The mission will use an existing recoverable capsule, and the mission profile is being simplified as much as possible. After the spacecraft is deorbited, the mice will be recovered "alive and well" for further study.

It's important to remember that we have many years of information on the effects of microgravity (sometimes called "zero gravity") on animals and humans. But the vast majority of our space experience has been in low earth orbit (and a few days on the moon). We have essentially no data on the long-term effects of fractional gravity such as humans will experience on Mars.

So this unique experiment will be a real step forward, helping to answer fundamental questions about  mammal biology and reproduction under partial gravity. "We need to know if mice and eventually humans can reproduce and live healthy lives in Mars gravity," said one researcher. "This mission will provide all the mouse data and video downlinks to the public to share this exciting space mission."

As the Project Coordinator, I am well aware of the rich research and design heritage from the Mars Society, MIT, and Georgia Tech. The Mars BioSat mission certainly has big boots to fill. 

MarsDrive is projecting that the craft will fly sometime between 2014 and 2016. In order for this to happen, we will need research and design assistance as well as funding. Please consider helping in any way you can!

Joshua Gigantino

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