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My name is Michel Jakić and I’m an exchange student at TU Graz. I was born in Požega in 1997. I moved to Rijeka to pursue my studies. At the Civil Engineering University, I finished my bachelor’s thesis, and enrolled for a Master’s degree.
I started looking into topics for my Master’s thesis in November 2020, and I wanted to write about something exciting, new and unexplored. After having looked into many topics, Martian exploration attracted my attention. This thesis is done in close cooperation with the Austrian Space Forum (ÖWF; Österreichisches Weltraum Forum).
I am writing about this topic because it is interesting to think about unexplored and mysterious planets. In addition to this, I am happy to contribute to the mission and conduct research in this unique environment the Analog Mission provides. It is important to think about the completely different conditions than what we have here on Earth, starting from different size, atmosphere, and gravitational force of the planet, leading to lack of liquid water. Here on Earth, we highly depend on H2O for life creation, and so do most of our tools and equipment that we use in our laboratories.
Moreover, a very important aspect is that we could not survive in the conditions Mars has. Out there, without life support and specialized habitats, we couldn’t even go out for a walk.
For future planetary colonies to be possible we have to define what is really important to us, and what we have to know before going there. How can we get information that we need, what tools to bring, and how to adapt them to the harsh conditions of another planet. It is a very complex and difficult task, and it will take a long time and effort to get there, but there is a great and positive outcome for mankind.
I’d like to give a short overview of my thesis; I wrote about Martian conditions, like different gravity, pressure, day duration, temperature etc. The surface of Mars is about the same size as land on Earth (149×106 km2), which results in lower surface gravity (3.711 m/s2). Mars lacks magnetic fields and with that it is concluded that it has a solid core today. The geology of Mars in some ways is similar to Earth’s, but the planets differ in some aspects. A big difference from Earth is Mars’ lack of liquid water. Mars is a desert planet with lower temperatures, which is a result of the greater distance from Sun and a lack of thick atmosphere that can trap Sun’s rays and heat up the planet (A. P. Rossi and S. van Gasselt 2010).
Standard terrestrial tools of geotechnical investigation are not directly transferrable to Mars, test execution and result analysis must be adapted to different boundary conditions. The goal of my thesis is to establish a catalogue of geotechnical tools that are suited for an application on Mars, including descriptions and guidelines on how the test execution and result analysis should be adapted.
For my thesis, I analysed few geotechnical devices and tests that could one day end up on Mars. Devices that are analysed in this paper are made for usage on Earth and are not constructed and designed in consideration of the planetary differences. This is not a problem on Earth because they are all affected equally, and we can compare their results. But the problem with moving them onto another planet like Mars is that if conversion and adaptation is not properly created, experiment results couldn’t be compared between the planets. So, it is necessary to make conversion or adaptation to these devices so that we can compare materials on Mars to materials on Earth and thus, learn more about Mars. Figure 3 shows one of the devices I used. It is an Ultrasonic device, I conducted experiments on basalts from quarry near Graz. My tests were focused on changes in parameters when samples are at different temperatures, since Mars is a very cold planet. First, I measured the time needed for the P wave to pass through the samples on room temperature, then I heated them on 105°C for 3 days so they are completely dry, and tested on higher temperatures, after that I cooled them to -15 °C and tested again. I also conducted a Schmidt hammer test and a Point load test. All results were affected by temperature and water content change. Conducting these experiments, I concluded that the Point load test might be a hazard for the space suit and habitat, because samples can sometimes fracture, and small pieces can create ruptures and for that it needs to be placed in a closed box that will contain all small pieces of rocks.
To get a better understanding of the movement possibilities of the fully equipped analog astronaut, I visited ÖWF when they were conducting a donning of the AOUDA suit. I concluded that grabbing smaller objects may not be that big of a problem, since the Analog Astronaut, Dr. Thomas Wijnen, successfully picked up the pen and wrote down on the specimen bag. He also had no problems taking the regular sized hammer from the table and moving it to another location. Moreover, he successfully picked up a soil sample with a scooping tool and put it into a specimen bag. However, it would have been easier if the tools had wider grips, considering that this suit testing lasted one hour, and real EVA mission will last up to 5 hours and regarding the suit’s weight and all the difficulties that go with the suit, it would be good to adapt tools.
I also finished the Analog Mission Basic Training course offered by the ÖWF; there I learned a lot about mission preparation, the people that are responsible for the whole process, and the mission itself.
Cooperation between different international societies is really important for all this to be possible.
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