Monday , January 24 2022

Meet & # 39; with the man & # 39; Melbourne on a mission to lead Mars



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After the probe drop on Mars (all going well – and sometimes does not), it will use a robotic arm to use "mole" pouring & # 39; up to five meters below the surface, leaving a long tail & # 39 ; Wake sensors. There will measure the vital signs of & # 39; Mars: the discovery of & # 39; as issuing heat from the planet's core to the surface.

Mark FITTOCKS, 34, left school in 2001 and took a double degree at the University & # 39; Monash in astrophysics and mechanical engineering.

Mark FITTOCKS, 34, left school in 2001 and took a double degree at the University & # 39; Monash in astrophysics and mechanical engineering.credit:DLR

This data is expected, will give new insight into the anatomy of our close neighbor, and even hints about how the solar system was created.

FITTOCKS, 34, left school in 2001 and received a dual degree in University & # 39; Monash in astrophysics and mechanical engineering. It was an unusual combination but deliberate: he wanted to work on space technology.

And seven & # 39; years ago found himself in DLR, through & # 39; "Good luck or chance", he says, a "mole Development lead test".

That came in & # 39; work in & # 39; team & # 39; 25 as a lead engineer for surface segment, "Susanna" – the molehill on the surface that will use the mole, keep safe , guiding his journey and transmits its reading back through the Lander to the World. .

"Renounced the pun but we had a lot of new ground" Connecting, says FITTOCKS.

They had a lot of trouble the mole working with & # 39; reliably in Martian environment.

"We just do not know what is going well there," he says. Not like they can go and have a look.

"We can make guesses from what we can see from orbit, but once you go a little bit below the surface we have to do a wider consciousness & # 39; & # 39 ;. broader

"We will be going where no one has gone before."

The Probe of Heat Flow and Physical Properties, HP3 for short, cast & # 39; to nearly five metrers) in surface & # 39; Mars.

The Probe of Heat Flow and Physical Properties, HP3 for short, cast & # 39; to nearly five metrers) in surface & # 39; Mars.credit:mark FITTOCKS

The first challenge to his team was the titħabbat mole deep enough to get good data.

The spring & # 39; 1 kg and 30 cm long will thump and shake itself in the sand, running from sand and rock back and timlaha.

They built a "sandpit very tall skinny" to test how it was going to work.

"The short summary is, it's really, really hard," says FITTOCKS.

"More than what was expected was more than what was expected, and during that time he was harming himself, because gripped and thumps away. It was a great technical challenge, how do we make it more b & # 39; her health. "

They expect the severity of & # 39; Mars to give a hand, and b & # 39; so the sand emptied from the World equivalent.

But they also expect to hit the rocks.

The concept of & # 39; this artist shows the landing of NASA Insight having deployed its instruments on the Martian surface.

The concept of & # 39; this artist shows the landing of NASA Insight having deployed its instruments on the Martian surface.credit:NASA

"They picked a site & # 39; us a nice landing, one we should be able nħaffer, and we will be able to avoid the rocks on the surface", he says.

But there will be a "moment of nail biting", he says, when they first see the face they landed, and can & # 39; be sure that it is something that you & # 39; opened.

Even if they can get the mole in the sand x & # 39; likely there are rocks under the surface. Some can jump, others can travel around, but some can only hold them fully to achieve the desired depth & # 39; 5 m.

The Insight Lander on Mars ... if everything goes according to plan.

The Insight Lander on Mars … if everything goes according to plan.credit:NASA / JPL-Caltech

The process & # 39; empty, to start next year, will be slow and thin. Whenever hit the mole problem will stop, allowing the team returned home to assess the situation and describe.

Another problem, one team completely control & # 39; FITTOCKS, is landing.

He will be at dinner with & # 39; fellow space engineers.

"I am I will be there with my phone trying to look b & # 39; professional way while I'm sitting there nervous as hell about what happens in landing. But it is a great dining space so I think that everyone will want to see it."

In addition to the risks, FITTOCKS says he is quite confident of getting "good science" of its systems.

"We carry better picture not only & # 39; what is making Mars now, but also how was formed Mars, as with spring since the beginning of the solar system so far, and even better understanding of the whole solar system our.

"We sometimes underestimate just how little we know about everything outside the World and even things here on Earth."

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FITTOCKS by then & # 39; here led to a new company, OHB f & # 39; Bermen, as project leaders on future missions & # 39; space exploration

Currently he is on a mission called Hera, working with NASA to go to & # 39; & # 39 pair; the asteroid and spacecraft jump in & # 39; one of them.

It will give helpful hints on how – if the asteroid & # 39; & # 39 Earth-killer; found the following to Earth – we can we can nimpenjawha its mortal end.

"In the last few years we know that asteroids and comets are different from what you expected, at & # 39; very fundamental ways", says FITTOCKS.

"We need to know X & # 39; happens when such an impact occurs."

Nick Miller is a reporter for Europe The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

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