Sunday, 26 May 2024
Spain has reached the milestone of being the first country to have a weather station on another planet: REMS in 2012, TWINS in 2018 and MEDA in 2021"
Since humankind started flying the first few space missions in the 60s, a myriad of projects have seen the light with the purpose of gaining a better knowledge about the space that surrounds us. Some of the most important ones were: the moon missions undertaken between 1969 and 1972; the Mir space station in 1986; the International Space Station in 1998, considered one of the greatest achievements of humankind; Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, launched in the late 70s in a mission toward the most distant planets of the solar system... But if there is one objective that has become almost an obsession throughout the years is the exploration of Mars, since it is considered to be the most habitable out of the planets within our reach. This makes it the best landscape to confirm the existence of life outside the Earth, in addition to being a massive source of data to find an answer to the enigma that is life.
The role of satellites in space missions has been essential in many scenarios: the arrival of rovers to Mars, the collection of mission data, and the transmission of data to NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN).
If we focus on the Mars missions, right now there are 8 artificial satellites orbiting the red planet: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey Orbiter, Mars Express, MAVEN, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter ,Hope Mars, Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) and Tianwen-1, and a number of upcoming new satellite launches in the next few years: Tera-hertz Explorer (TEREX) 2022-2024, Mangalyaan 2 (Mars Orbiter Mission 2) 2024, Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) 2025.
NASA plans to send a telecomunications orbiter to Mars in the late 2020, and is studying the possibility if sendinf human crewed missions in the 2030"
In Addition to all of this, NASA plans to send a telecomunications orbiter to Mars in the late 2020, and is studying the possibility if sendinf human crewed missions in the 2030.
And along comes SpaceX, which has the ambitious project of performing some kind of mission to Mars during the 2020s. Its founder Elon Musk, wants to land his first , transport ship on Mars in 2022, followed by four vehicles during the 2024 launch window.
and What role has Spain and its industry played in these missions?

 

We could say that it has had an importatnt role in several of the missions that have been undertaken, participating in the construction of important components both for satellites and for the vehicles sent to Mars. Some examples are:
We could say that it has had an importatnt role in several of the missions that have been undertaken, participating in the construction of important components both for satellites and for the vehicles sent to Mars. Some examples are:
High Gain Antennas (HGAS) High Gain Antennas (HGAS) insstalled on Curiosity and Perseverance developed by the consortium formed by Airbus Defense and Space and Sener.
MEDA meteorological station installed on Perseverance, which was developed by Spanish scientists of the Centro de Astrobiología de Madrid (CAB, CSIC INTA) and the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA) to measure the wind, dust, ultraviolet radiation and other weather indicators on Mars with its sensors.
The REMS environmental station  (environment monitoring station) aboard Curiosity.
The TWINS environmental station  (temperature and wind sensors for the InSight mission) on the InSight platform.
Thanks to them, Spain has reached the milestone of being the first country to have a weather station on another planet: REMS in 2012, TWINS in 2018 and MEDA in 2021.
And in late 2020, Airbus was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to tackle the design, development and construction of the ERO (Earth Return Orbiter) orbital vehicle and the SFR surface vehicle. Both of them within the scope of the MSR (Mars Sample Return) program that is being undertaken jointly with NASA. It is the first space vehicle expected to bring back Mars samples to Earth. Just a few months ago, both agencies have approved the preliminary design of the satellite, expected to launch in 2025.
As for the ground segment, Spain plays a fundamental role by hosting one of the three stations that make up NASA’s Deep Space Network, located in Robledo de Chavelas. This complex is equipped with 6 antennas: one 26 meters in diameter, 4 34 meters in diameter and one 70 meters in diameter.
Proof of the opportunity that is opening up for companies of the space sector in the upcoming years is the approval by the European Space Agency (ESA) for an investment of 14.4 billion Euros in the next five years (2021-2026) – the highest budget in its history, out of which 1.953 billion will be allocated to the human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars.
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