Friday , November 27 2020

Meet the man in Melbourne on a mission to master Mars



Once the probe lands on Mars (everything goes well – and sometimes does not), it will use a robotic hand to deploy a mole to stretch up to five feet below the surface, leaving long tails waking up. There it will measure the life signs of Mars: to discover how much heat flows from the planet's core to the surface.

Mark Fetok, 34, left school in 2001 and holds a double degree at the University

Mark Fitock, 34, left school in 2001 and holds a double degree at the University of Monash in Astrophysics and Machine Building.Credit:DLR

These data, hopefully, will lead to new insights into the anatomy of our closest neighbor and will even find what the Solar System has come up for.

Fittock, 34, left school in 2001 and holds a double degree at the University of Monash in Astrophysics and Machine Building. It was an unusual but conscious combination: it wanted to work on space technology.

Seven years ago, he found himself in DLR, through "good luck or good opportunity," he says, as "a mole test."

This began in a 25-year-old team as a Lead Surface Engineer, Susanna, the surface mound that would deploy the mole, keep it safe, route its journey, and forward its land-to-Earth readings,

"Excuse the sin, but we had to break a new land," says Pietok.

They had a lot of difficulty in getting the mole to work reliably in the Mars atmosphere.

"We just do not know well what's going on there," he says. It's not like they can be seen.

"We can make assumptions about what we can see from the orbit, but when you go a little below the surface, we have to make wider and broader assumptions.

"We'll go where nobody has gone before.

The heat flux probe and physical properties, HP3 for a short time, are poured almost five meters) on the surface of Mars.

The heat flux probe and physical properties, HP3 for a short time, are poured almost five meters) on the surface of Mars.Credit:Mark Fitock

His first challenge was to make the moth dig deep enough to get good data.

The 1 kilogram long, 30 cm long, will shake and shake in the sand, passing through sand and rock and filling it behind.

They built a "very skinny tall sand" to see how this would happen.

"The brief summary is that it is really very difficult," Pietok said.

"It took more time than expected, and during that time it was ruined because it was falling and falling." It was a great technical challenge for us to make it more stable. "

They expect the gravity of Mars to give them a hand, making the sand freer than the equivalent of Earth.

But they also expect to hit rocks.

The concept of this artist describes the landing of NASA's InSight after it has implemented its tools on the surface of Mars.

The concept of this artist describes the landing of NASA's InSight after it has implemented its tools on the surface of Mars.Credit:NASA

"They chose a nice landing place for which we should be able to climb and we can avoid the rocks on the surface," he says.

But there will be a "moment of nail biting," he says, when they first see the surface they landed on, and can be sure that this is something they can open.

Even if they can put a moth in the sand, there will probably be rocks beneath the surface. Some may be broken, others may move around, but some may simply prevent them from reaching the desired depth of 5 meters.

The Mars InSight landing ... if all goes according to plan.

The Mars InSight landing … if all goes according to plan.Credit:NASA / JPL-Caltech

The suffocating process, which begins next year, will be slow and diligent. Whenever a mole struck a problem, it will stop by allowing the team to return home to analyze the situation and make strategies.

Another problem that is entirely from Fittock's team is the landing.

He will be at dinner with his fellow space engineers.

"I'll be there with my phone, trying to look professional while we're sitting nervously in the shit about what's happening on the playground, but it's a great space dinner, so I think everyone will want to see it.

Risks aside, Fittock says he is quite confident in getting a "good science" out of his systems.

"We will get a better picture not only of what Mars is doing now but how Mars has formed, how it has received Mars from the beginning of the solar system to date, and even a better understanding of our entire solar system.

"Sometimes we underestimate how little we know about everything outside the Earth and even about those things on Earth."

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Since then, Fittock has moved to a new company, OHB in Bremen, as the leader for future space mission projects

He is currently on a mission called Hera who works with NASA to go to a pair of asteroids and break a spaceship into one of them.

They will give them useful ideas on how – if the asteroid "Killer on Earth" is noticed by coming to Earth – we may be able to push it out of our deadly goal.

"Over the past few years, we have learned that asteroids and comets are different from what we expected in many fundamental ways," says Fitock.

"We want to know what will happen when this impact occurs".

Nick Miller is the correspondent of Europe Sydney Morning Herald and Age


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