The Challenge | Make Sense Out of Mars

Develop a sensor to be used by humans on Mars.

MDAS - Martian Dust Alert System

Martian dust storms surely pose a threat to future human settlements. We propose a simple and easy to deploy, yet reliable, system to provide early alerts.


We have designed a system based on ground meteorological ministations (16 stations for this project) deployed around a human Martian colony. Each of these stations continuously senses wind speed, pressure, temperature and particle concentration. With our own algorithm, we are able to obtain an interpolated and extrapolated fields of these measures. Using saltation models covered in previous research, conditions for dust storm triggering can be determined. With that data being processed, an early alert can be given to the colony. Also, the model allows to classify the storms according to their intensity and, in that way, generate an adequate alert type.

In summary, this system provides humans in Mars with sufficient time to take preventive measures before the storm arrives, not only for themselves, but also for the infrastructure (rovers, experiments, solar panels...), switching them automatically to safe mode to avoid damage. The reliability of this system (it has redundancy) and the accuracy of its model, along with the ease of deployment and low maintenance requirements, makes it perfect to a first stage human colony in the Red Planet.


SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.