Prof. Meinzer in front of P3-D and P5-A

The ARCHIMEDES* project was initiated through a proposal of the Mars Society Germany in early 2001, following an invitation to a Mars Mission assessment workshop by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). ARCHIMEDES was conceived as a joint Mars mission project of the German Radio Amateur Organisation AMSAT Germany and the Mars Society Germany (MSD), where AMSAT would provide the Mars satellite, the trip to Mars and the injection of ARCHIMEDES into a Mars entry trajectory, and the Mars Society Germany the Mars probe ARCHIMEDES.

The AMSAT Mars satellite, called P5-A, is based on the AMSAT Earth orbit satellite P3-D successfully launched in the year 2000. The P5-A satellite is particularly suitable for the ARCHIMEDES Mars mission, because it allows integrating the ARCHIMEDES space vehicle into the P5-A propulsion system (called “Joint Propulsion System” or JPS), which will be made available for the ARCHIEDES Mars entry mission by separating it from the satellite once the satellite has reached its Mars orbit, and using it afterwards to steer ARCHIMEDRES into a Mars entry trajectory, before the ballute (balloon plus scientific payload) are released for Mars entry.

*The acronym ARCHIMEDES stands for: Aerial Robot Carrying High Resolution Imaging, a Magnetometer Experiment and Direct Environment Sensors. These scientific experiments constitute the main goal of the ARCHIMEDES mission.

The P5-A / ARCHIMEDES Mission Concept

Due to the availability of the JPS ARCHIMEDES does not need its own propulsion system. The ballute inflation gas tanks will be located in the JPS.

Although the AMSAT P5-A mission is not confirmed, the ARCHIMEDES mission concept and design remain to be based on this joint AMSAT/MSD undertaking, because the AMSAT P5-A project is, like ARCHIMEDES, an amateur undertaking, and because the ARCHIMEDES design is adapted to the P5-A configuration taking advantage of the Joint Propulsion System-JPS for steering ARCHIMEDES into a Mars entry trajectory and the power and data transmission resouirces of the P5-A.

In principle ARCHIMEDES could be transported on any satellite to Mars providing the required mass, space, resources and release capabilities. However would the ARCHIMEDES design, as described in this paper, need to be adapted to the specific satellite in question and become more complicated.