Thursday, April 21, 2011

Project Red Rocks

Lockheed Martin space planners have developed a plan called "Project Red Rocks" which would use the tiny Martian moon Deimos as a stepping stone for a manned landing on Mars itself. The plan calls for the first human expedition to the Martian system to land on Deimos. Not only would the crew explore Deimos, it would also tele-operate a fleet of rovers on the Martian surface. Since astronauts on Deimos would be running the rovers instead of someone way back on Earth, the exploration could cover more ground more quickly.

Using Deimos as a base would also be simpler than attempting a human landing on Mars, and soil samples from Mars could be sent to Deimos for initial study, thus guarding against sending potentially dangerous alien biology back to Earth.

LM's planners have developed an interesting approach to the early days of human Mars exploration. Eventually, of course, Deimos will not be enough; humans will want to explore and likely settle the planet. Going to Deimos first, however, could be a good start.

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