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.

Our idea is to create an exoskeleton that will be very easy to install and effective for moving on the surface of Mars. Astronauts should have different choices for all kinds of situations: they could combine a mechanical exoskeleton with a jetpack.

What are the main difficulties on Mars?

1. Atmosphere:

  • 100 times less atmospheric pressure (lower density)
  • a very small amount ot oxygen (0,15% compared to 21% on Earth)
  • 96% carbon dioxide (ca. 0,03% on Earth)

2. Gravity: ca. 3 times lower => 3 times lower acceleration
3. No magnetic field => the light molecules at the edge of the Martian atmosphere get pushed out by solar winds


Mechanical Exoskeleton

We were searching for inspiration how to create an exoskeleton for jumping and we found it in kangaroos.

Advantage: not dependant on fuel (liquid, gas) => secure and practical

Use: missions around the base on Mars

Why mechanical?

  • no need for electricity
  • easier to realize
  • cheaper
  • easy usage
  • simply replace (broken) parts
  • guaranteed to function
  • uses human muscle power (astronauts will train their muscles)

3 suggestions for types of exoskeleton:
All of them will have an inner (on the leg) and an outer (on the space suit) part.

Built-in exoskeleton:

  • all-purpose (it can be installed every time easily)
  • for detailed scouting

As external parts:

1. As an add-on (attach to space suit)

  • put on in the base or outside in a sitting position
  • practical (it is light for carrying and easy to attach)
  • for every situation

2. As a whole big part (put on the space suit)

  • put on in the base
  • for missions to an already explored destination


Inner part:
exoskeleton bones - carbon fiber
springs - steel
flexible fibers - to attach leg parts to the exoskeleton. They will be part of the suit.

Outer part:
leaf spring locking mechanism - titanium
leaf spring - fiberglass
exoskeleton foot - rubber with a protective layer against decay


Advantage: faster movement than with exoskeleton. However, it uses fuel.

Use: in emergency situations (when astronauts need to get to the base fast) or on special missions thet require faster movement

We researched about all possible fuel types. Of course, our first idea was to create fuel from carbon dioxide, but all currently suggested ideas for turning this gas into fuel are about very big installations that are very expensive and ineffective (for Mars). Moreover, other gases, like oxygen and hydrogen, exist largely only in chemical compounds. In the end, we came to the conclusion that methane could be a very effective way to power the jetpack.

Why synthesize methane?
- no external energy needed, the materials are at hand
Turn the human feces into methane by means of methanogens, which:

  • are anaerobic;
  • only require carbon dioxide to be kept alive;
  • exist in temperatures between -40 and 145 degrees Celsius (maximum range observed).

Group info:
We are two young high schoolers willing to share their ideas with scientists and hoping to be able to somehow help the world reach goals that could change the future of humanity.

Made inSofia Bulgaria
from the minds of
How they did it