Space

SmallSat’s mission to Mars postponed after NASA removed it as a satellite payload 

Space and agencies companies continue to deploy spacecraft and satellites to explore and assess the capability of life support on Mars, famously known as the red planet. The space missions are trial spaceflights in preparation for man’s relocation to Mars. New space technologies such as beacon signal transmission help in locating astronauts and all space equipment. Additionally, humankind plans to conduct studies on the planet’s atmosphere and group surface to deduce the condition for human survive within Mars. Launching satellites to collect data on the planet’s atmosphere is one of the objectives of a smallsat mission to Mars. Unfortunately, it will take longer than anticipated as this is no longer the case for the smallsat mission. 

The postponement of the mission to send a miniature satellite to Mars to study its atmosphere is because the smallsat is no longer an auxiliary payload on NASA’s launch vehicle to explore an asteroid. The smallsat mission is currently looking for a new rocket to carry it to the red planet. In 2019, the smallsat mission, the Escape, and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE) satellite launch mission was among the payloads selected for NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration project. The SIMPLEx program is NASA’s project for conducting studies of planets and other space bodies. The EscaPADE mission features two identical spacecraft scheduled for launch into Mars’ orbit to capture data on the planet’s atmosphere. The information collected by the satellites helps in studying the interaction between the solar currents and the atmosphere in Mars. The interrelationship to identify the processes that cause the escape of gases from the planet’s atmosphere.

In February, NASA announced the EscaPADE and Janus as auxiliary payloads for NASA’s Psyche mission, scheduled to use the Falcon Heavy as a launch vehicle in July 2022. NASA’s SIMPLEx program selected Janus as one of the projects that aim to study asteroids. The program intended to drop-off EscaPADE as Psyche mission pass-by Mars by 2023, on the way to the famous asteroid Psyche located within the primary asteroid belt. However, the schedule for the EscaPADE mission changes because the smallsat is no longer a payload for the Psyche mission. NASA broke the news during a meeting held by the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group on September 14. Lori Glaze, the supervisor of Planetary Science department at NASA, announced the changes on their earlier launch schedules. 

Karen Fox, the NASA spokesperson, said that the agency’s decision to change its launch vehicle from a Falcon 9 Full Thrust to a Falcon Heavy removed the EscaPADE smallsat payload. In conclusion, EscaPADE mission continues to search for a rocket launch that will enable the success of the study on Mars’ atmosphere.

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