Mars has intrigued mankind for centuries, and ever since “War of the Worlds” caused mass hysteria over all of America, we have wondered if there is, or ever has been life on Mars. In today’s age of technology, we know that there are no little green men running around on Mars, and our attention has shifted to the location and analysis of Martian water and its history. That is the primary reason for the Martian Ice and Water Analysis Mission, or MIWA Mission. Following the primary Martian exploration plan of “Follow the Water,” the MIWA Mission is the next logical step in our exploration and research of Martian water. This mission will not only expand on the findings of the Mars Phoenix mission and the failed Mars Polar Lander, but it will do so from the heart of the biggest known Martian ice reservoir: the North Pole. Also, the relative simplicity and fairly lax technology development deadlines of the mission, coupled with the use of previous, proven technologies, all but guarantees the mission’s success.
The essential objectives for the MIWA Mission are as follows: use “mole” technology to drill into the Martian surface to analyze the layers of polar ice and obtain information about Mars’ recent ice/water history, use robotic arms and scoops to analyze the differences in Martian surface ice and soil in three separate, yet relatively close, locations around the lander, much like the Mars Phoenix mission (Dunbar, 2013), transmit the sounds of Mars to Earth using a miniature microphone like the Mars Polar Lander was supposed to do, and use Lithium-ion battery technology and several types of heaters to preserve the MIWA Lander’s functionality throughout the Martian winter. The majority of the technologies needed to achieve these objectives already exists or are currently being researched. Further, the most ambitious objective of the mission is preserving the lander’s functionality throughout the winter, and this will be a relatively cheap research investment for a possible year or two of additional use.
Probably the most significant part of this mission is the landing site. As mentioned before, the MIWA Lander will land in the heart of the Martian North Pole, the largest known Martian ice reservoir, even further north than the Mars Phoenix Lander (Dunbar, 2013). This area is believed to hold the key to the history of Mars’s ice and water through its layers of ice caused by centuries of freezing, melting, and planet-wide dust storms, thus making it the next step in the “Follow the Water” exploration plan. The MIWA Mission hopes to gain as much knowledge as it possibly can and use this pristine research location to its full potential.
The timeline for the MIWA Mission is an important component in regards to mission success. The cruiser will be launched from Earth in May of 2018 so that it will arrive at Mars sometime during March, 2019, which is very near the Martian Spring Equinox for the northern hemisphere (The Planetary Society, 2013). This...