Коганицкий Григорий Аронович: другие произведения.

Martian "saw-cut" / spherical robot for investigating of Mars /

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Конкурс фантастических романов "Утро. ХХII век"
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   An abbreviated version
  
  
   // I apologize for computer translation. Unfortunately I am unable to perform a professional translation //
  

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   Now, with the enthusiastic hysteria, the media began to revive the theme of "American Martian robots."
   The impression is that this attention is reheated artificially, lobbying someone not unselfish interests.
   These primitive "bogies" with the cameras, which have not brought sufficiently serious scientific results adequate to its cost, are used mainly for annoying advertisement of "American scientific advances."
  
   At first, let us to compare yesterday's and present day.
  
   What is it?!
  
   Well, for example - The old, primitive, made practically by available materials lunohod_1 is compared with ultramodern and ultra expensive "Opportunity".
  
   So - Lunohod_1
  
   Weight of "lunohod_1" was 756 kg
   During the time of Lunar voyage, "Lunokhod-1" has ridden 10 540 m and sent to Earth 211 Lunar panoramas and 25,000 photos.
   Analysis of chemical composition of soil was executed more than in five hundred points and the physical and mechanical property of the surface layer was studied in 25 points on the line of motion.
   "lunohod_1" was delivered onto the Lunar surface in November 17, 1970 by the Soviet interplanetary station "Luna-17" and has been working on its surface up to September 29, 1971
  
   So - Mars rover "Opportunity"
  
   Weight of Opportunity was 185 kg.
   The rover was equipped with: a rock drill, cameras, a microscope and two spectrometers mounted on a manipulator.
   The rover "Opportunity" traveled on the surface of Mars 30 kilometers and has spent for doing this route more than three years.
  
   Difference in dates, when these two Units have created is forty years.
  
   The impression is the concept of Opportunity and its kinematic was copied, almost one to one, from a sufficiently primitive, even to the date of its manufacture, "Moon's tractor."
  
   What about comparison the conditions in which these two devices have worked?
  
   On the moon - much harder because there are there greater changes in temperature and there is vacuum which gradually disrupts the operation of any mechanical joint.
  
   What about research opportunities!? - Almost the same.
  
   Moreover, if an advertising jabber and exaggerated delights will be cleaning out of magazines' articles, scientific results that have received from the American Mars rover as compared with orbiters - almost zero.
   As an example of the article - "...he has achieved up to the next control point that is located not less than in 50 meters..." ....
  
   Note the difference of the date of creating these two concepts of "lunohod_1" and "Opportunity" - forty years!?
  
   Of course, there is a difference - a different level of technology.
   In the American rovers were the most modern the solar batteries and video cameras designed in Japan ....
   But there is not any new concept of the rover after 40 years of science development.
  
   What are Scientific Results!?
  
   But in this matter are serious difficulties with the answer.
  
   All I found in the press is just different events
  
   It is very poorly even compared with the ancient "Lunokhod_1"!!
   Actually, except of cameras, everything else has ceased to work correctly immediately after landing or were inefficient initially - as insufficiently thought-out principle.
  
   But, the newspapers beat the drums very loudly - "...he has achieved up to the next control point that is located not less than in 50 meters...".
   All pseudo-scientific journals replicate dozens of tinted photos in the computer modified versions.
   Why, mainly, it was admired only "pseudo-scientific" journals?
   The orbiter has transmitted for scientists in a few degrees more of scientific information than "Opportunity", which also has included the photos.
   Moreover, the photographs from orbit were photographed by cameras that have a higher resolution!
  
   What's the difference?!
  
   The main difference is the angle and distance of photographing only.
  
  
   Then, why, in this case, the drums are thundering so loudly!?
  
   There is a new American Mars rover on the financial horizon!
  
   What's new?!
  
   For example, it's incredible price, already crushing even for the U.S. economy;
   For example, it's Russian neutron analyzer, and several modern scientific instruments from European countries and Japan.
   But, what is the American's challenge? - It is still the same rover, made in the concepts of the seventies, in the concepts of the Soviet "lunar_1".
   If you think that I'm exaggerating, look at the figure represented on Martian map below. This small ribbon is the area of the Martian surface that was stated to be examined by this costly program.
  

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   Do you have questions!?
   .....
   It may be more simply for American science to buy or to pilfer the drawings of the ancient Russian "Lunokhod_1"off the archives of "young technical magazine" and modify it at more modern unit by hands of the Chinese trainees?
   Do you will assert that I'm again exaggerating?
   But, what is result of such incredible spending of money - Crawling of a few kilometers for the confirming that an orbiter really has found water in this place?
   Do you want to say - "If it is not valuable for you try to make the best offer yourself"!
   No problem. If variant of "saw-cut" will be excluded, by means of usage of significant smaller sum, it may be possibly to probe a few thousand square kilometers, having transferred a few hundred thousand of stereo photos and analysis in same time of exploitation.
   And what is important - The technical reliability of system will be higher on the degree.
  
   Let me to pose existing challenges, before talking about the design of the device that can be an alternative to "curiosity".
  
   Firstly - we have to decide, what we aspire to?
  
   Secondly - we have to decide, what tasks we do not want to expend energy and money for.
  
   What we want to achieve?
  
      -- Reduce the cost of the project four times and get a statistically reliable picture of the features of the Martian surface, its physical and chemical composition and climate;
      -- To reduce the cost of the project four times, the total weight of the lander and the research complex should be two times lower than have been planned for "curiosity";
      -- To obtain statistically reliable picture of the features of the Martian surface, the total area of investigated surface must be at least 10 000 square kilometers.
      -- The entire volume of the research must be carried out during the Martian year;
      -- Reliability of a research complex must be enough to preserve not less than seventy percent of the original research ability and mobility to end of this period;
      -- Research complex should be able to transmit, in any combination, at least one hundred frames by specified resolution, including a stereoscopic or one hundred analytical measurements every ten kilometers of a route or do it during of four hours.
  
   In order to ensure of performance described above -
  
      -- The method of research complex landing should not require that a speed of landing module in the Martian atmosphere will be dropped by means of the jet engine usage;
      -- The research units should be able to separating from the landing module at a height of at least 2-3 km and to reach the surface without damage by oneself;
      -- Units should not have a complex mechanical devices which contact with the environment;
      -- Units should not be spending plenty of power from power supply for detectors operation;
      -- Units should not be spending plenty of power from power supply for their movement;
      -- Units moving should not depend on temperature and illumination on the planet surface.
  
   0x01 graphic
  
   As you can see in the parts one and two, very specific requirements are formed to the entire research complex and the units, of which this research complex have to be composed.
   Such Unit, which has variable volume and, consequently, variable windage and variable relative density can be done in the form of two hemispheres connected by hardwearing, gas-tight spherical membrane.
   Inside this unit below its center of gravity, the module having a pressure-tight, strong case is suspended by elastic bandages
   The outer surface of the membrane has a three-dimensional texture.
   There are video cameras on the outer hemispheres.
   Gas filling the unit can be pumped out of a spherical membrane into the pressure-tight hardware module or can be returned to the membrane, changing geometric size and shape of the unit
  
   In the condition of minimum volume, the module whose weight in Earth gravitation about 4-5 kg, is a sphere with a diameter of 40-50 cm.
   In the condition of maximum volume, the module is a symmetrical balloon having diameter about 1.5-2 meters.
  
   The unit is in condition of a minimum volume
  

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   Consider working of the module in various boundary conditions.
  
   Up to lowering into Martian atmosphere, a set of units is installed on a landing grid and secured by an insulating coating.
   All units are in condition of a minimum volume - gas fills the shell of hardware module, a shell of minimum volume and membranes are vacuum-processed.
   After entering into the upper layer of the atmosphere and rejecting the heat-resistant coating, the landing parachute slows the landing grid. When the landing grid achieves an altitude of 2-4 km it begins to throw down the research units by specified program.
   Immediately after separating, the solenoid valve or similar device directs compressed gas into the membrane and inflates the unit to its maximum diameter.
   In this condition, the unit having a high aerodynamic resistance and a low specific weight quickly loses speed and hardware module is well protected from being damaged in moment of contact with Martian surface.
  
   The unit is in condition of a maximum volume
  
   0x01 graphic
  
   On the surface of the planet, the unit can select several different forms and conditions depending on the current program and the climate.
  
   0x01 graphic
  
   Consider changing of the shape of the unit and relative pressure inside the shell in different situations.
  
   As mentioned above, until separation from the landing platform, the membranes of the unit were vacuumizated and all gas is accumulated inside the module of hardware compartment.
   After a unit separating, the membranes will be inflated by the gas release off the module of hardware compartment. The unit having a high aerodynamic resistance, low specific weight and maximum protection from shock, falls downwards onto Martian surface.
   Upon Mars reaching, the units are rolling along its surface by the wind.
   On the planetary surface, depending on the execute task; the wind flow and topography, the unit can have several conditions, varying from the maximal compacting to maximum volume, and vice versa.
   This changing of the current condition may be executed either by command from Earth, through the orbital retransmitter, or in an automatic mode.
   For example -
  
   In the case of extremely adverse external conditions, when: wind speed is too high, for such topography or given job; a dust storm or too low temperature demanding to reduce heat loss - the pump have swapped gas from the membrane into the module of hardware compartment and the unit is transformed into condition of a minimum volume.
   If there is a need to increase mobility and ability to overcome obstacles for given climatic conditions and local topography - the module of hardware compartment transfers gas into the membrane and the unit under of pressure action is transformed into condition of maximum volume, diameter and windage.
   In that case when the unit must reduce of own velocity, gas of the membrane is transferred into the module of hardware compartment, pressure in this rolling balloon is reduced and velocity will be reduced, as a result of increasing deformation of membrane during the motion.
  
   The unit is in a mode of heightened resistance to rolling
   0x01 graphic
  
   As an additional opportunity to control changing of resistance to movement, the membrane can be produced as double-layer. When such the double-layer is vacuumized it can change the outer texture and as a result of that, resistance to movement can be changed.
   As video cameras, the cameras which locate on the hemispheres of hull and have automatic variable focal length are used.
   During of the module's rolling along the planetary surface, the cameras, installed on outer hemispheres are moving along a complex trajectory and executing scanning. Such scanning, after a computer data processing, is capable to form not only panoramic pictures but also to form a stereo pairs on the basis of individual frames received in time of motion.
   To facilitate imaging, the data that have described a frame is including information of the position of the camera relative to the checking point on trajectory or in relative to vertical.
   The energy supply to the unit is provided by two independent sources:
   In the motionless and stand-by mode, it is provided by the isotope's battery only;
   During the movement, power of a mechanical generator, which converts vibrations of the hardware module around the equilibrium point, is being added to battery's capability.
   This scheme allows increasing energy production during the most active phase and in addition it absorbs mechanical impacts to the hardware module inside the unit.
   Physic-chemical analyses are being carried out by analyzing of radiation's spectrum of the isotope battery reflected from the soil.
   The units travel in automatic mode and don't require continuous process of movement's control. The operator forces into control in extreme cases only, giving command to choose one of the pre-embedded software responses to external environment.
   The units don't have permanent connection with an orbital repeater.
   Moving along the route, the hardware module fluctuates around an equilibrium point inside the unit, and the axis of the main lobe of antenna scans upper hemisphere (scans Space above the unit).
   When the orbital repeater, which is doing 10 - 16 passing in the Martian day, have coming into the polar pattern of the antenna of a unit and the repeater detects a signal, information is exchanged in multiplex mode .
  
   if we take into account: angle of radiation pattern of the antenna, the force of gravity on Martian surface and specificity of mechanical inertia of the hardware module - the total duration of communication sessions during the day will be at least 20 percent of its duration.
   As you can see, such method of exploration of Mars is simple, cheap, and, due to the simultaneous use of several tens of the unit, has a high redundancy of reliability of collecting and transmitting of information.
   In fact, even in very simplified version that I described here, area of tested surface and volume of transmitted scientific information will be in hundreds times more than the analogous answers that may be done by "curiosity".
   Respectively, economic effectiveness of project will be increased.

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