Wednesday 30 of November, 2022
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From Mummies to Mars: NASA to Use Ancient Egyptian Methods for Ambitious Mars Exploration Project

Stifled air contact? We did it first.

Staff Writer

As part of NASA's long-term robot-led Mars Exploration Program, the space agency's 2020 rover mission has looked to the Pharaohs and their mechanisms of tomb preservation, in retrieving rock samples from the Red Plant for analysis of microbial life.

Chief Engineer for the Mars 2020 mission, Adam Steltzner, revealed how they've adopted a 'stifled air contact' method for the ambitious project. In layman's terms, there's a reason for the overwhelming freeing of claustrophobia and when you’re inside the Pyramids of Giza: it's a very deliberate and calculated feet of engineering to keep those colours and artefacts looking crisp after thousands of years.

Less air circulation means less tiny micro-organisms prying in and nibbling on the artefacts. “We used this similar idea to help seal away our sample tubes prior to their use on Mars,” said Steltzner.

He added that they’ve developed a system called the Fluid Mechanical Particle Barrier (FMPB) that adopts the same ideas of Ancient Egyptian tombs’ stifled airflow, which will keep the sample tubes sterile until they're needed. The rover is set to launch in July 2020, and will last at least one Mars year (687 earth years). 

Main image courtesy of NASA, artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft approaching Mars