The Challenge | Make Sense Out of Mars

Develop a sensor to be used by humans on Mars.


A helmet useful to protect and regain visibility during the Martian sand storms. An indispensable tool for future Martian colonization.


Well, we know that one of the most important problems for mars colonization are cosmics radiations and sandstorms. For our project we considered the sandstorms problem.

Their main characteristics are the extension and the variable duration (one of the last started on may and finished on July covering all the planet). Against these problems the actual helmets are not adequate, the view is totally compromised. Our team proposes a solution that combines electric-magnetic field and virtual reality

The soil of Mars is composed of electrically charged dust because of the radiation from the space.

The Lorentz force deflects the trajectories of the particles. In this way the view around the astronaut could be possible. How? Considering the actual technologies, the requirement of portability, weight and space, we can compare the field of this system with the ones generated by a lightbulb and a little radio.

We picked the statistical data from NASA and we considered the worst case. And we discovered that could be possible reach a radius of view of 1,5 meters.

We also propose the HANSEL AND GRETEL system.

Hansel&Gretel is a route tracking system that might help the astronauts finding the way back to the base even if they suddenly find themselves in a dust storm. This is obtained by integrating two subsystems. Hansel follows your path since you start the device and stores it inside a memory card. Gretel on the other side is a surrounding environment scanner device, based on a LIDAR technology which define the contour of the objects around the astronaut and shows them on an OLED display. An OLED display is a thin transparent flexible foil that could be added to the headset’s inner layer. The astronaut can see his surroundings projected on the OLED display. Still on the display will be showed in augmented reality the path stored by Hansel, so that the astronaut can follow it from the end to the beginning and get back to the base.

Future development

We have also thought to integrate these two systems with a feedback circuit.The first subsystem is very efficient when the speed of winds i slow, instead the second subsystem shows all its efficiency when the visibility goes to zero. A good signal of feedback is the speed od the wind, so we propose a Pitot Tube.

We can use a little wing that automatically orientates long the direction of the wind to measure its inclination. This information can be used in feedback to orientate the vectors of the electric field in order to increase the effectiveness.


SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.