The Project Work in the Space Missions and Systems Design class has just started this morning. Sabrina Corpino and Sara Seager with their teams will guide the students in the definition of a CubeSat mission at Mars. The mission of this year will have a great scientific value, especially because of the original mission concepts that will be analyzed. In addition, it will be designed to provide meaningful new knowledge of Mars, to support future human explorations.

The students have to propose innovative and preferably unprecedented solutions, in order to have the chance to be supported by a potential customer. Students must move away from the classic paradigm of single-location in-situ measurement (lander + rover) or multi -instrument single monolithic satellite. Not only it must be different from what we have seen “before”, but must be perceived as less expensive than the “before”.

Mission subject is a fleet/constellation of CubeSats, in which the individual units are preferably all equal and single-instrument, and in sufficient number to allow a radical exploitation of the capabilities of the constellation itself (temporal and spatial resolution, coverage, distribution, low cost, low development time, etc.). Three investigations are proposed, so students are split into three groups,:

  • Orbit
  • Atmosphere
  • Surface

First step has been the definition of the scientific goals and objectives. During next days, scientific requirements and then engineering ones will be derived with an iterative process, defining both science and engineering challenges and trying to find solutions that reach the minimum science level and meet the program constraints given by the professors.

Members of the CubeSat Team are participating both as students and as coordinators of the three groups.

Photogallery of this workshop is available on our website, or directly on our Flickr account.