Project MARVIN - Abstract
Project MARVIN

A Mars Analysis and Return Vehicle with In Situ Resource Utilization

Ursula Callaway, et. all


29 November 1993


Project MARVIN (Mars Analysis and Return Vehicle with In Situ Resource Utilization) is an unmanned mission to Mars focusing on sample collection and in-situ resource utilization. The MARVIN mission is designed to 1) collect samples of the Martian environment, 2) produce fuel from local Martian resources, and 3) use the fuel produced to return the samples to Earth.

The MARVIN spacecraft lands on the Tharsis Plateau, to the southeast of Olympus Mons. Samples of soil, dust and atmosphere are collected using lander-based collection devices. A robotic arm similar to those used in Viking missions collects soil and rock from the ground surrounding the lander. A bleed line from the compressor is used to collect the atmosphere sample. Dust samples are collected using two methods. In the first case, dust is collected using the atmosphere-filtration system of the fuel-production facility. The second method is a deployable wind sock. Since the wind sock method is mechanically simple and is not dependent on any other system, this dust sample also serves as the redundancy sample. The Sample-Return Capsule houses the samples, which are triply contained.

The fuel-production facility combines carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere with hydrogen imported from Earth to form methane and oxygen. A Sabatier reactor is used to reduce methane and water. A Reverse-Water gas Shift unit produces water. The water is split into hydrogen and oxygen by an electrolyzer. A Dynamic Isotope Power Supply provides power to the robot arm and fuel-production facility.

The Pratt and Whitney RL10A-3-3A rocket engine combusts the methane and oxygen for Mars ascent and the Mars-Earth trajectory. This engine is previously used once the Titan IV and Centaur upper stage separate from the spacecraft. The spacecraft consists of three main parts; the Mars Lander Vehicle (MLV), the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) and the Sample-Return Capsule (SRC). All three segments land on Mars. The MAV is nested inside the MLV and the SRC is attached on top of the MAV. At Mars ascent, the MAV and SRC separate from the MLV. At Earth entry, the SRC separates from the MAV and is retrieved.

The entire mission length is approximately 2.5 years. llegated for fueThe initial transfer from Earth to Mars is 201 days. Once on the surface, fuel production will require no more than 540 days. The transfer from Mars to Earth requires 205 days.

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