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. â€œSurface dust has been cited as one of the major stumbling blocks in the exploration of Mars,â€ Flis explained. â€œBecause 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.â€
The pair recently presented their invention to a team of experts at the final of the European Space Agencyâ€™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 Agencyâ€™s launch site at Kourou in French Guiana. â€œWe were really surprised to be recognised for our work, especially as we were the smallest and youngest team in the final,â€ Martin said. â€œSome 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.â€
Principal lecturer Chris Welch praised the pair for their application during the project. â€œTheir work is important because nobody has really looked at the removal of problematic surface dust before now,â€ he said.