Grasshopper Jet Pack for Mars Exploration

People's Choice Nominee

Grasshopper Jet Pack for Mars Exploration received a People's Choice Nomination.


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.

Mobility on Mars is a real challenge. You are limited by the weight you can bring with you from Earth and the radically different environmental conditions prevent us from using the vehicles we are used to. Moreover the terrain can be rough and an exploration team cannot risk the life of an astronaut by sending him and his vehicle into unknown and difficult to access places. Despite these restrictions, we would not want to go all the way to Mars and not being able to explore a crater that could contain the answers to a lot of our questions, would we?

Flying on Mars is very difficult due to the thin atmosphere and hovering with a Jet Pack uses a lot of propellant that we need to make, store and transport. Therefore, our solution proposes to use a Jet Pack as a grasshopper. It means that the astronaut would use a short and powerful impulsion to induce a leap. The main objective is to be able to access the bottom of crater or explore an upper plateau and any other location that is hardly reachable with common vehicle but are definitely worth a visit.

We added several innovations to the concept in order to enhance the security, the control and the ergonomics of the jet pack:

  • An exoskeleton is added to the space suit in order to carry the excess weight of the Jet Pack solution but also the astronaut life support unit. It would enable to cover more distance by foot and carry more experiments while providing a certain security margin on the accuracy of the jump.
  • A companion drone for real time mapping would give the data necessary for the real time trajectory optimization of the Jet Pack. In addition the drone could also be used as radio relay to communicate with the habitat when line of sight is lost due to landscape.
  • A landing system inspired by prosthetic running sole to absorb Jet Pack landing shock and hence helps protect weakened bones of astronauts.
  • An Extra Vehicular Activity App in order for the astronaut to select the landing spot and visualize the trajectory beforehand. The app is computing the trajectory based on the weather and topographic information sent by the drone. It also gives relevant information about fuel consumption, velocity or height.
Resources Used

Java, SketchUp, Matlab, Android STK

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