Form 9.B Project Summary



Proposal Number:


Project Title:

Mars Micro Balloon Probe

Technical Abstract (Limit 200 words)

The Mars Micro Balloon Probe (MMBP) is a

project to create a low-cost airborne Mars

photographic probe with a trans-Mars injection

(TMI) mass an order of magnitude less than that of

any Mars balloon probe designed to date. This can

be done by approaching the gondola design in a

spirit of ruthless minimalism, reducing it to a single

instrument coupled with a computer, UHF radio

transmitter/receiver, and a primary battery power

supply suitable for a 1 day flight. In addition, large

mass savings and greater simplicity and reliability

can be achieved by replacing the traditional

complex high pressure hydrogen or helium inflation

gear coupled with superpressure or overpressure

balloons with a novel self inflating zero-pressure

polyethylene balloon using ammonia gas. By

combining these innovations, it should be possible

to create MMBP units with a total TMI mass,

including entry system, on the order of 10 kg. Such

light weight systems would be prime candidates to

fly as hitch-hiker payloads on any of the numerous

Mars orbiters or landers planned for the near

future. This would allow high resolution aerial

photography to be performed on Mars without the

loss of any of the surface or orbital science

currently planned.

Potential Commercial Applications (Limit 200 words)


The primary initial application of the MMBP

system is to provide a means aerial photographic

exploration on Mars. However the same system

could be used on Earth to carry out cheap remote

sensing missions for both scientific and commercial

purposes. For example small balloon gondola

systems of the MMBP type could be released by

fishing boats, and used to spot nearby areas where

plankton signatures indicate that fish are likely to

be plentiful. Meteorologists seeking look-down

data on cloud activity from altitudes of 32 km would

also find the MMBP systems extremely useful.

Oceanographers could use MMBP systems the

map the movement of polar ice. In fact, nearly

every form of commercial and scientific remote

sensing application in use on Earth today would

benefit from the development of low-cost, light

weight MMBP based photo-reconnaissance probe

that could be released by investigators on an

on-demand basis.

Name and Address of Principal Investigator (Name,

Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)

Robert Zubrin

Pioneer Astronautics

445 Union Blvd. #125

Lakewood , CO 80228

Name and Address of Offeror (Firm Name, Mail Address,


Robert Zubrin

Pioneer Astronautics

445 Union Blvd. #125

Lakewood , CO 80228