A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized modular satellite for space research that usually has a module unit volume of one liter (10 cm cube), has a module unit mass of no more than 1.2 kilograms, and typically uses commercial off-the-shelf electronics components. Individual satellites may comprise one or more modules. Each satellite produces its own power, is designed with solar panels, and is capable of transmitting signals.
CubeSat designs have been simplified so almost anyone can build them and instructions are readily available for free online. They have proven to be a very cost-effective and useful platform for low-cost and simple experiments in Earth orbit, and do so in a non-interference basis to the primary payload. NASA has successfully launched and utilized CubeSats in the past, including the historic December 2012 deployment from the International Space Station.
To date, a CubeSat mechanism has not been used to support Mars exploration, and the Mars program does not currently have any specific applications for CubeSats as Mars exploration assets. NASA is considering launching a CubeSat-based payload (a cube-based experiment module, an independent CubeSat, or constellation of CubeSats) on a future Mars exploration mission, using excess capacity on the mission’s primary spacecraft.
Create a CubeSat design and develop a mission that operates in the Mars environment and furthers our knowledge of Mars. The specific deliverable can take many forms: a simple mission concept document, software for CubeSat hardware and sensors, a detailed CubeSat design, a full mission plan, prototype CubeSat hardware.
The solution should focus on the design and functionality of the CubeSat, but delivering space-rated hardware is not a requirement. In other words, this challenge should focus on the mission concept for the CubeSat using off-the-shelf components. A physical and/or functional prototype of the CubeSat would be a desirable product, but is not required. CubeSat hardware (frame, solar arrays, control motors) is readily available online and does not need to be redesigned as part of this challenge. You can assume a common CubeSat design or develop your own framework. CubeSats may be applicable to roles in Mars orbital and/or landed missions.
CubeSat missions may address one or more of the following scientific objectives:
- Understand Mars as a System – geologic, climactic, and other processes
- Search for (extinct) life
- Conduct systematic search for extant life (environments)
- Perform comparative planetology: Mars as precursor for Earth
- Study Mars’ well-preserved ancient geological record
- Understand origin of life as recorded in Mars ancient geology
- Investigate Mars as aggregator of disciplines relevant to Earth: Geology, atmospheric science, paleontology
- Provide communication relay for landed and/or orbital assets
- Provide reconnaissance imaging of potential landing and exploration sites
- Provide communication and/or imaging coverage during critical mission events such as entry
- Support rendezvous and proximity operations between orbital elements.
- Prototypes of the software needed to control the hardware/sensors can be prototyped using an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, iPhone or Android to demonstrate Mars exploration objectives.
Or CubeSat missions may address one or more of the following program infrastructure objectives:
December 2012 ISS CubeSat Mission
CubeSats description on Wikipedia
CubeSat introduction, 2-minute video, DIYspace
CubeSat design specifications
Extensive list of CubeSat missions
Amsat's list of CubeSats
Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG)http://mepag.nasa.gov/reports/index.html
reports on science objectives and priorities
Planetary Science Decadal Survey
Mars Program Planning Group
The following projects are solving this challenge:
Mars Methane Explorer
Plan for CubeSat Mars orbiter for detecting methane and other trace gases with passive spectroscopy imaging. Visit Project
Martian Navigation Constellation
This mission uses a constellation of CubeSats to provide navigation around the Red Planet. Visit Project
In this mission, a constallation of cubesats will be designed to provide 24/7 images of all the surface of Mars. Visit Project
A design for a constellation of CubeSats to be implemented throughout various altitudes in the atmosphere with various sensors (imaging, temperature, humidity, plasma, dust, position) in order to determine processes controlling climate and linking the Mars lower and upper atmospheres. Visit Project
MISIÓN .- LOCALIZACIÓN,ASISTENCIA Y SEGUIMIENTO DE MOCIONES EN SUELO MARCIANO,ASÍ COMO ASISTENCIA TÉCNICA A ORBITADORES Nombre del proyecto: L.A.S OF MARS. Localización, asistencia, seguimiento Programa para el desarrollo de pico satélites de asistencia múltiple. Propuesta original. Misi... Visit Project
An open source cubesat platform for data acquisition on Mars surface. It provides several sensors for different measurement, like passive infrared temperature sensor, radiation sensor, color ccd and spectrometer. Visit Project
Designing a cubesat that achieves the red planet information, help to serve how to implement future missions to Mars. The hardware design is based on an embedded system, and software deployment with the approach of the mission are proposed. Visit Project
Take an extra Base!
Designing a CubeSat that collect different type of information that are going to help in determining appropriate locations on Mars for future base building. Visit Project
Freshman students coming up with a new design (AUISat) of the CubeSat with a full detailed plan about a mission to Mars using it. Visit Project
Mars, Sweet Mars
Could be Mars our second home? In our times, when the quest for Mars is still being debated, we try to see further and ask ourselves: is Mars habitable? The question could be easy to answer to, but we don't want to lose hope. Is there a possibility to soften the harsh conditions and Mars and make... Visit Project
As exploration to mars increase there is also an increase demand in communication between central space centers and the satellites/rovers in mars. The problem is that the communication within rovers in mars and the central space communication centers in earth can only be established for a short p... Visit Project
Oklahoma To Mars
Everything in the world emits radioactive waves. Our project will be specifically meant to measure atmospheric radiation from Mars. Through radiation, we can measure temperature, climate, and its effects on other satellites that would orbit Mars. The CubeSat will be located an altitude away from ... Visit Project
Design of a conceptual CubeSat Cluster Orbiter to collect microbial life on Mars atmosphere, detect seismic and atmospheric movement on Mars ground and determine possible future lander sites. We make use of Consumer Off The Shelf (COTS) equipment and modern analysis and collection techniques.... Visit Project