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Thomas-Peters's avatar

Leaving the Nest

At apoapsis (the highest point in Argosy's elliptical orbit), MEM 1 undocks from its mothership, and starts a series of systems checks. At periapsis (the lowest point of the orbit) the MEMs deorbit motors will fire, to initiate the descent to the Martian surface.
Mars, here, is pictured more as we understand it to be today. Specifically, the atmosphere is still dusty from the dust storms that rage at times of Mars' nearest approach to the sun (perihelion). The Argosy mission was designed to get to Mars at this near point, to minimize transit time. The ability to get to Mars and wait the storms out in orbit is a major advantage to the direct entry model, which leaves the landers to the vagaries of the Martian storms. The Soviet Union, in particular, lost several probes in just such a way.

Modeled and rendered in Lightwave 10 and Photoshop.
Thanks for looking!
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MisterMustafa's avatar
Hey, do you do commissions? I would love to hire you to do a book cover for me.
JTofSD's avatar
IsoGraph60XYZ's avatar
Luv it! Mars mission series-greata stuff
Ludo38's avatar
Waow waow!! Beautiful !
Please take a look at my Mars Design blog, it's really around what your illustrate !
Eagle1Division's avatar
It does the de-orbit burn at periapsis?
That seems like a lot of wasted Delta-Vee when it could be done at apoapsis for a much Delta-Vee lower cost... :P
Perhaps it's the restrictions of heat shield technology at the time?
Thomas-Peters's avatar
As I understand the orbital mechanics, you get the most change in orbit per unit of energy expended if you burn your engine at periapsis. Its been a long time since I looked into such things, so I go take another look...
Eagle1Division's avatar
That's certainly true for hyperbolic, flyby, orbits, because of the Oberth effect (spending less time feeling the pull of the body's gravity up close).

But for an elliptical orbit, envision an extremely elliptical orbit in a pure 2-body system. At apoapsis, the velocity may be a few m/s, but at periapsis, it may be thousands of m/s. So the most trajectory change, intuitively, will be at apoapsis.

And furthermore, during the burn, the ellipse will become a circle, and as it becomes an ellipse again, then the vessel's current position will be the apoapsis anyways...

Of course, the only proof though will come in the math. Wiki has it nicely worked out algebraically...
And I may have just finished Calculus, but sadly I have yet to learn calculus of multiple/a system of variables, which is what's required for true trajectory calculation in a realistic environment... Right?
Tribersman-FR's avatar
Sure, if we are not taking heat-shield limitation you can make an intersection with the atmosphere from apoapsis.

It's true that even if you have enough remass to put yourself into orbit, nobody said you had to make a clean round orbit.

And yes, Orbiter is great.
I'm pretty sure you know it already but just in case, this website may interest you :
Eagle1Division's avatar
Interesting point. My own idea for mission architecture involves a reusable Martian SSTO, so probably using an all-metal heat shield, which means RCC, which can take a lot of heat, so I think it would be doable. Not that I even know how to do the math to check :XD:

But most architectures don't involve that, so a lighter, non-reusable heat shield might be used that can't take as much heat... There's a lot of factors to consider...

Yeah, I did. Not sure how I originally found that site... But It's a great site. I think it may have been the thing to spark my interest in Aerospace, actually, years ago. Thanks for linking, anyways :)
Tribersman-FR's avatar
I don't remember how I discovered the site either (3/4 years ago), but I understood I had found something unique and awesome.

If you want to now, my own mission plan would be a solar-VASIMR tractor, dropping on the fly a full suit of robot on Mars' surface, another tractor bringing a (empty) base on Phobos/Deimos, waiting for human to arrive laster/faster.

So... making robots survive the entry shouldn't be very hard.
Eagle1Division's avatar
Solar-VASIMR... I'm not sure how well the ISS' solar panels are designed, but I don't think you could run a VASIMR on the power output of a solar array... The ISS will have to fire the small 200Kw VASIMR in bursts, charging a capacitor battery in-between firings. And that's only enough thrust to boost it's orbit. Now, take into account the fact that large solar arrays would interfere with trying to obtain a high mass ratio, and then add to that something ~1/2 light intensity at Mars' orbit, and it begins to look like a nuclear powerplant is a necessity for a VASIMR mission... I believe it is :P

Anyways, why Solar? Also if you're bringing the habs, you'd might as well have someone in them, instead of adding a whole extra mission for people to arrive in different habs ;)
Tribersman-FR's avatar
Roughly 20% efficient if I remember, also keeping in mind today's VASIMR are around 70% efficient.

I have to admit I was thinking about fictionally tin&light solar panels, mounted on a Valkyrie-style light structure.

But as for why I wouldn't have somebody in, it's because the travel will take around 1 years at best, even with renewable food supply it will make everything very heavy. (and we only need humans there to do real-time remote control)

If we are to use nuclear power, may as well use it for thrust (the closed type), I'm sure it would be cheaper until we can have the miraculous VASIMR-Fusion thrust.
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Thomas-Peters's avatar
Okay-its all coming back to me, now, through the haze of calculus....
Thanks for catching that! I obviously need to review my generalizations about orbital motion. But, thats the kind of stuff I LIKE doing! :D
Eagle1Division's avatar
Hmm... Have you heard of Orbiter? The space flight sim? It's really a fantastic piece of software. It's a free dl, too :D
GrahamTG's avatar
Beautiful work as usual, I love the wuality of light you bring to your work. Excellent.
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Thank you, sir! Its exactly that, and your wonderful palette, that I admire so much in YOUR work!
karanua's avatar
Excellent work my friend, in rapt anticipation now for the decent and landings. Fantastic you illustrating the mission in such clean technical detail.
HandofManos's avatar
I do like how you used the background and how the ship is intigrated into it. Love the reality of it all.
RobCaswell's avatar
Ah, I LOVE nice big vertical compositions :D
Bold and inspiring.
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