Fly On Mars


Have you ever wanted a rocket pack to soar amongst the sky? Now you can … on Mars… Gravity is less, atmospheric density is less, and the vistas are breathtaking. So come to Mars...

Buck Rogers aside, Mars is an interesting environment for out-of-this-world mobility options for an explorer. This challenge asks for the definition of a conceptual mobility solution to allow an astronaut to easily and rapidly explore Mars including overcoming obstacles such as cliffs, ravines and other difficult terrain. The solution should be person-portable and any means or source of propulsion be locally produced.

This challenge can be answered by:

  • producing an app to simulate your adventures in building your jet pack and flying around Mars;
  • produce an app that provides the local gravity, atmospheric conditions (density, weather, anything-else-of-interest) to help decide what is needed for your jet pack design;
  • perform a feasibility/conceptual study of an actual jet pack design that could use potential Mars fuel sources; or Design and Demonstrate a model scale jet pack using hardware.

Mars is our nearest planet, and some day it will be our hope for survival. To be able to move on Mars while you don't have a car, your only choice is a jet pack.

Our challenge is to perform a feasibility/conceptual study of an actual jet pack design that could use potential Mars fuel source. We have designed a jet pack that is able to use CO2 "that forms 95 % of Mars's atmosphere" to make fuel.

The jet pack has a suitable design to be lifted on back of a 80 kg person. The jet pack will firs grab a 1.11 L of CO2 that will be directed to a tube with 1.11 L of H2 gas and the tube is coated from the inside by Cu powdre and Al2O3 as catalysts; the reaction mixture's temperature will be raised to 600 C using two CPC collector with dimensions 1.616 x 1.627 x 0.122 m each could heat up to 338 C using solar power. This reaction will release 0.9 L H2O and 1.2 L CO. Gases released will be directed through a membrane of amorphous poly-(1,3-butadiene) which will pass the CO only to a tube while direct H2O to another tube. This reaction is called Reverse Water Gas Shift.

The CO released will then be directed to a tube with H2 gas and coated with Cu, Fe and Ni powder as catalysts. The reaction mixture temperature will be raised to 300 C using one of the two CPC collector. This will release nearly 1 L gasoline and other fuel materials beside H2O "the exact amount of gasoline and H2O depends on the catalysts". The products will be passed through a membrane of phosphorylcholine polymer that will only pass water molecules while direct the fuel materials to the consumption room. This reaction is called Fischer–Tropsch process.

The water released from both Reverse Water Gas Shift and Fischer–Tropsch process will be electrically separated into O2 gas and H2 gas. The gases released from electrolysis will pass through membrane of polyimides which will only pass the Hydrogen gas and recycle it back in the reaction, while the Oxygen will be used in the consumption room to produce thrust. Each 0.9 L of H2O release 1.11 L H2 and 0.6 L O2. Each 1 mole of water needs 237.13 KJ to be electrically separated, for 0.9 L of water you need 11856.5 KJ which equals 3293.5 W; we can use two Flat Plate Solar Collectors with dimensions 2444 X 1223 X 80 mm "which is really small" each of which can generate power of 2114 W per day.

In the consumption room:

the engine used is a small rocket engine where consumption of oxygen and gasoline happens and the released water steam and CO2 are ejected through nozzle which pushes the jetpack up and forward.

All the devise is made from quartz and Fe/Ni steel to be able to withstand the heat and the whole device is coated in Calsitra – Alkaline earth silicate wool which insulate heat up to 1600 C. And the device's tubes must be isolated in a good way to prevent contamination with CO or other hazardous materials.

All Calculation were performed due to the balanced chemical equations and scientific resources mentioned in the resources section. Volumes of the used material is considering the density of the material.

Resources Used

Research Papers:

Landis, Geoffrey A., et al. "Extended temperature solar cell technology development." AIAA 2nd International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference. 2004.

Spencer, M. S. "On the activation energies of the forward and reverse water-gas shift reaction." Catalysis letters 32.1-2 (1995): 9-13.

Benson, Eric E., et al. "Electrocatalytic and homogeneous approaches to conversion of CO 2 to liquid fuels." Chemical Society Reviews 38.1 (2009): 89-99.

Zubrin, Robert, Brian Frankie, and Tomoko Kito. "Mars In-Situ Resource Utilization Based on the Reverse Water Gas Shift: Experiments and Mission Applications." AIAA Paper (1997): 97-2767.

Hepp, Aloysius F., Geoffrey A. Landis, and Clifford P. Kubiak. "A chemical approach to carbon dioxide utilization on Mars." In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Technical Interchange Meeting. Vol. 1. 1997.

Solar to Fuels Conversion Technologies, AN MIT FUTURE OF SOLAR ENERGY STUDY WORKING PAPER, Harry L. Tuller, 2015

David, Oana Cristina. "Membrane technologies for hydrogen and carbon monoxide recovery from residual gas streams. Tecnologías de membranas para la recuperación de hidrógeno y monóxido de carbono de gases residuales." (2012): 204.


Turner, Martin JL. Rocket and spacecraft propulsion: principles, practice and new developments. Springer Science & Business Media, 2008.

Simulation Programs:

Transys 17

Web Sites:–Trop...

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