The Challenge | Make Sense Out of Mars

Develop a sensor to be used by humans on Mars.

The Martian Dust Storm Sensing System (MarDSSS)

The Martian Dust Storm Sensing System (MarDSSS) provides a reliable, local detection of approaching dust storms that are detrimental to exploring astronauts.


Martian Dust Storms are a problem.
1) Damages Exposed Circuitry
2) Blocks out Solar Panels, resulting in power loss
3) Low visibility, therefore astronauts must return to base

How to solve:
Using a Martian Dust Storm Sensing System (MarDSSS)
A system of local dust storm detection that addresses the gap between the global detection of dust storms by satellites such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), that provide dust storm data to the base once per orbit, and determining whether a dust storm impact is imminent for a particular base. Refer to attached picture for its mode of action.

The sensors consist of a light intensity detector, a laser optical dust sensor and barometer. The sensor suite receives time data (MTC) via an antenna and transmits sensor data and dust storm alert status back to the base. The whole system is powered by a PV cell and a durable battery. The whole sensor complex is mounted on a carbon fiber pole to prevent false positive readings as a result of dust particles kicked up by wind near the ground. The whole instrument will be manufactured on earth with spare sensors and put into position by autonomous rovers during the calm martian summer.

In essence, the MarDSSS provides a simple and surefire detection of dust storms in order effective dust storm preparations that properly safeguard a Mars base.


SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.