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BYU provide NASA's critical research for future missions to Mars

BYU provide NASA's critical research for future missions to MarsNASA / JPL-CALTech via CNN
NASA wants to send astronauts to Mars by 2033.

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Try, UT (A team of BYU scientists has been funded by NASA to create a device that helps spaceship scientists better understand dust on Mars and how it could affect human mission on the planet in the coming years.

The team, with chemistry and engineering specialties, has been tasked to measure the size and electrical charge of dust on Mars, according to BYU's statement. Details may not be very important, but the lack of a thorough understanding of planetary dust can make NASA's mission to NASA very dangerous.

"Dust on Mars is important for weather patterns on Mars," said Anaron Hawkins, a professor and chair of the BYU Engineering Department. "It's also important for any mission with humans or without a crew on the planet because dust can interfere with the instruments."

Dust is abundant in the atmosphere of Mars because water in the Earth, resulting in massive dust storms that can last for months and cover a massive portion of the planet's surface, the statement said. This poses major problems for a human journey to Mars, because if Mars's dust enters spacearmas or oxygen sources for astronauts, serious health risks may become present.

Not only that, but dust can interfere with equipment and spacecraft. "Mars's dust tends to hold solar panels, as we learned from the robots we sent to Mars," said Wood Chiang, an associate professor at the BYU engineering department. "When we hold solar panels, they reduce solar energy production. One of our robots was killed because the dust covered all solar panels."

Spectrometer These include Chiang and Hawkins, both engineer professors, as well as Yixin Song graduate students, Jace Rozsa and Elaura Gustafson, according to a statement. They create a mass spectrometer with printed plates specializing in determining the charge, mass and velocity of Mars dust particles.

"Knowing the size, you can predict how this dust will behave and it's better to model here on Earth," Hawkins explained. "Knowing the charge inside each particle, you know how it will affect the instruments, and how much they will get together."

Hawkins added that spectrometers are the usual tools used to measure particle composition.

"Since the particles are charged, they will react to the electric field because they have some positive or negative charge for them," Hawkins said. "If you put this charge over the electric field, it will accelerate, slow down, move back and forth … We can manipulate through these particles and on the basis of where they go, we can tell you something about their mass or amount. they set up an electric field and then the particles enter the field. "

As the charge was so small, the team created a microchip to increase it to a level that can be measured by a return capacitor estimated to be 1000 times less than the shelf model, the statement said. The small, robust microchip consumes very little energy, making it desirable for NASA's future use.

Creating Loaded Test Blocks One of the obstacles faced by researchers was to actually test the spectrometer without having Mars particles here on Earth, according to a press release. As a solution, they create their own stuffed particles that imitate those on Mars.

Researchers have begun to suspend grain dust in the liquid and then spray them into a high-electrical field to evaporate all the solvents, leaving only grain-filled dust, a statement said.

"Getting the particles that really represent something you'll find on Mars is more difficult than it sounds," Hawkins said. "We are now trying to use something called electro-spray," where particles are subjected to high-voltage solvents and removed from the needle. There are other ways to do this in parallel. ".

Researchers are optimistic that their instrument will be used on unmanned Mars missions to prepare for the first time predicted to reach 2033, according to a statement.

"This work is funded by NASA and this is part of the program where we propose building the instruments that would be used for real missions," Hawkins said. "We are in an initial phase, but NASA has a process in which such instruments can be increased in readiness for missions." As you progress and do something more ready for the mission, NASA will provide further funding and then put it in your plans for real needs. and support. "

Hawkins added that they have many problems that need to be solved before the device is ready for a mission to Mars, but hopes it will be successful in the coming years.

"I'm really excited about this project, and NASA is really trying to put people on Mars," Chiang said. "I think they've done a wonderful job 50 years ago, putting men on the moon, and I think it's time for men to be on Mars, we'll do it in this generation."

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