NASA chooses Blue Origin for studies on Mars


American space agency, NASA, has chosen Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin for some studies on the magnetosphere of Mars. Assignment involves the launch service for the Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission. The task are a dual-spacecraft mission to study ion and sputtered escape from Mars.

ESCAPADE will be launched on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket from Space Launch Complex-36 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The launch is scheduled for the end of 2024. Blue Origin is one of 13 companies selected by NASA for contracts related to this study on Mars .

Mission Objectives

ESCAPADE will study the magnetosphere of Mars, the magnetized area of space around the planet. Two identical small spacecraft that will provide simultaneous observations at two points. The mission will help provide researchers with a better understanding of how the magnetosphere interacts with the solar wind and how energy and plasma enter and exit the magnetosphere. It will also provide further evidence of how this element is important in maintaining an atmosphere. We will be able to provide certain data that will help us understand why Mars lacks an atmosphere and how much this aspect is due to its weak magnetic field.

Each satellite will carry three important instruments. A magnetometer to measure the planet’s magnetic field, an electrostatic analyzer to measure ions and electrons, and a Langmuir probe to measure plasma density and ultraviolet flux from our star, the Sun.

ESCAPADE will take about 11 months to reach Mars after leaving Earth’s orbit. Both spacecraft will spend several months adjusting their orbits before being able to best acquire data on the magnetosphere. The study also allows scientists to better understand space weather, which can protect astronauts and satellites both while orbiting the Earth and while exploring the Solar System.

Chiara Rossi

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