tech2 News StaffSep 04, 2019 20:53:26 IST
SpaceX is scouting for possible locations to land its rocket on Mars.
Elon Musk, the founder of the private space company has set his eyes on landing on the red planet by 2020 and has already started the development of the Starship rocket that will be able to carry up to 100 people to Mars. The rocket is designed as a future Earth-to-Mars shuttle.
The criteria for the possible landing site is that it needs to be flat, warm and hazard-free. Each of the sites is a place with frozen water that might exist just beneath the surface. The idea is that the water could be easily mined and melted by robots and people for supplies like water, air, and fuel. The spots are also further away from the icy polar caps of Mars and are hence warmer because of the sun. This will also help in collecting solar energy.
The sites being selected by SpaceX comes from data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the pictures were captured by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRiSE) camera that is operated by the University of Arizona. Four sites were first observed by Robert Zimmerman, on his site Beyond the Black but Bussiness Insider found nine. He wrote, "To put it mildly, it is most intriguing to discover that SpaceX is beginning to research a place where it can land Starship on Mars.
Scientists that want images from this camera need to put in requests for the images of the locations, in question, months in advance. Out of the nine images that HiRISE was observing, six images have been published in August, two are yet to be captured.
"Under direction from JPL [NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory], the HiRISE team has been imaging candidate landing sites for SpaceX. This effort began in 2017, initially for the Red Dragon lander, and is continuing for their Starship vehicle," HiRise principal investigator Alfred McEwen told CNET. was the name of a concept lander of SpaceX for an uncrewed mission to Mars but was canceled in favour of Starship.
While there is a lot that is still left to be done, Musk has already announced that he envisions a self-sustaining city on Mars by 2050.