A report proposes the use of lightweight balloon-borne instrumentation systems for exploration in the vicinity of a lander on the surface of Mars. Each system would comprise instrumentation with a mass of about 0.2 kg and a balloon with a mass of about 0.8 kg and volume of about 50 m3. The balloons would be inflated with H2 or He by use of an apparatus based on the automatic inflation equipment used on Earth to launch weather balloons. Of course, the apparatus would incorporate special design features to ensure successful launches in the thin, cold, windy Martian atmosphere and to minimize damage to balloons on the rock-strewn Martian terrain.

This work was done by James Cutts and Andre Yavrouian of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. To obtain a copy of the report, "Mars Microballoon for Multiple Ground Launched Deployments New Technology Report," access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.nasatech.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category. NPO-20634

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Small balloons for local aerial exploration of Mars

(reference NPO-20634) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the March, 2000 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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