EVA and Surface Mobility Operations for Mars Exploration: Analog Field Tests of Tethered Balloon Systems at the NASA Haughton-Mars Project Site, Devon Island, High Arctic



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2024 International Conference on Environmnetal Systems


Tethered balloons have been proposed as promising airborne systems for Mars science and exploration operations, both in the context of future robotic and human missions. Tethered balloons may carry instrument payloads such as cameras for real-time aerial imaging, mapping, navigating, and scouting; meteorology packages for atmospheric surface boundary layer investigations and weather monitoring; communications systems to serve as relays for remote field communications, in particular in topographically complex, labyrinthine terrain; and many other types of payloads. We report here on field tests of the deployment and operation of experimental tethered balloon systems during crewed vehicular excursions, including in spacesuited EVA mode, at the NASA Haughton-Mars Project analog field site on Devon Island, High Arctic. Lessons learned are analyzed, and implications for the design of future tethered balloon systems for Mars are presented. We propose in particular the use of a deployable vertical boom for balloon inflation and stowage, to ensure that a tethered balloon's deployed components (e.g., envelope, tether line) never come in inadvertent contact with the terrain, other anchor platform hardware, or spacesuited crew members.


Gabriel Dubé, McGill University, Mars Institute & Polytechnique Montréal, Canada
Pascal Lee, Mars Institute, SETI Institute & NASA Ames Research Center, USA
ICES403: Extravehicular Activity: Space Suit and Surface Mobility Operations
The 53rd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, on 21 July 2024 through 25 July 2024.


Balloon, EVA, Mars, Rover, Analog