The idea is to collect dust particles from Mars atmosphere using an aerogel plug and Quartz Crystal Microbalances. The capsule shall: 1) Collect and store dust particles in the aerogel, change attitude during the flight, in order topreserve the aerogel plug. 2) Acquire data during the flight and store them in a solid state memory. 3) Transmit acquired data.

This project is solving the Seven Minutes of Science challenge.


The idea is to collect dust particles from Mars atmosphere using an aerogel plug inserted in the nose of the re-entering mass. The objectives of the experiment are:

1) Collect dust particles and store them for an undefined time, for future recovery. (Main) 2) Acquire acceleration, temperature and pressure data during the flight and store them in a solid state memory for future recovery. (Secondary) 3) Transmit acquired data to one of the Martian assets for final transmission to Earth. (Tertiary)

To fulfill the main objective it is mandatory to find and recover the capsule(s). A possible solution is to implement a radio beacon able to survive the landing and able to transmit a signal that can be received by orbiting satellites. Analyzing the time intervals where the signal is acquired, or using a radiogoniometer, should be possible to identify the position of the landed capsule with some accuracy.

Second mandatory requirements is to preserve the aerogel insert, preventing contamination at the landing. The proposed solution is to equip each capsule with aerodynamic surfaces that, once deployed, move the center of pressure in front of the center of mass. This shall force the capsule to fly upside down, and impacting the surface with the back, preserving the aerogel insert. The deployment shall be triggered by the melting of a restrain and shall be actuated by a spring.

In order to meet the second objective it is needed a set of MEMS sensors (thermocouples, pressure transducers and accelerometers), a data acquisition system and a solid state recorder. These systems must be activated at the separation using a mechanical switch. They have to survive the re-entry but only the memory is required to survive the ground impact.

The third objective requires a data transmission system, able to transmit the acquired data. This system should be able to sustain the re-entry and impact loads, and has to transmit the whole data set many times, continuously, up to battery depletion.

The aerogel solution is mostly suitable for the CBMDs because they fly faster and at higher altitudes.

For the EBMD masses dropped into the atmosphere we can use the suction of atmosphere in the rear stagnation point of a small capsule that contains a measurement system of dust based on Quartz Crystal Microbalances. Such a system could capture several samples of atmosphere and after landing fulfill the measure and transmit data.

The implementation of these systems would increment the amount of scientific data collected by the mission. More over, with many similar capsules, re-entering in the atmosphere at the same time, following different trajectories, would give information about how much some characteristic of the Martian atmosphere change from point to point, at the same time.

This project has not yet submitted a Source Code/Project URL

Project Information

License: Apache License, Version 2.0


SHARK MAXUS-8 re-entry experiment. -
Quartz Crystal Microbalances -
DUSTER. Aerosol collection in the stratosphere. -
Mars Dust Capsule concept -