Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mars Scout Program Potential Probe: THOR

NASA's Mars Scout program has barely begin and already they're reviewing several potential probes for exploring the Red Planet.
Among them is a low-cost proposal called THOR: Tracing Habitability, Organics and Resources project.

Conceived by scientists at the Arizona State University, THOR is a two-part spacecraft, with an orbiting module and an impactor. The impactor would crash into the surface of Mars, impacting hard enough to make a crater 30 meters around and 10 meters deep, and kicking up a large cloud of debris. The orbiter will then study the composition of this material, testing for water and organic compounds.

THOR is one of two planned upcoming NASA probes to Mars. A robotic lander/laboratory called Phoenix is the other. Future robotic probes may include aircraft or blimps to cruise the atmosphere and conduct research...

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