Two Kingston University space enthusiasts have made it their mission to help man set foot on Mars. Aerospace engineering and astronautics students Flis Holland and Martin Stolen have developed a Martian dust removal system to aid exploration on the Red Planet.
The system consists of a carbon dioxide snow-gun able to be used by astronauts to remove dust from spacesuits and machinery. “Surface dust has been cited as one of the major stumbling blocks in the exploration of Mars,” Flis explained. “Because it is so finely divided and statically charged, it poses a significant danger to anyone inhaling it. It can also damage machinery used on the planetary surface.”
The pair recently presented their invention to a team of experts at the final of the European Space Agency’s Aurora Student Design Competition in Barcelona. The judges were so impressed they rewarded Flis and Martin a special prize to visit the European Space Agency’s launch site at Kourou in French Guiana. “We were really surprised to be recognised for our work, especially as we were the smallest and youngest team in the final,” Martin said. “Some of the other teams had 16 people in them, many of whom were already studying at postgraduate level. In contrast, all our work was done in our spare time.”
Principal lecturer Chris Welch praised the pair for their application during the project. “Their work is important because nobody has really looked at the removal of problematic surface dust before now,” he said.