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    Polish technology to help explore Mars’ atmosphere

    NASA-funded Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), an American laboratory involved in space research, is showing interest in technologies from Poland. According to information provided by Professor Grzegorz Wrochna, head of the Polish Space Agency (POLSA), JPL is interested in, among other things, sensors that can be used to study the atmosphere of Mars.

    The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is funded by NASA and managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

    According to the head of POLSA, the prospect of an unmanned and relatively small technical mission to Mars in cooperation with JPL, with significant Polish participation, seems interesting. One of the Polish ideas for such a mission is spectrometric sensors, which will make it possible to study the rare Martian atmosphere. As explained by Prof Wrochna, radio sensors could be scattered on the surface of the Red Planet, which would make it possible to explore a much larger area than by means of rovers.

    According to the head of the Polish Space Agency, the concept is completely innovative, but relatively simple to implement. In Poland, the Wrocław University of Technology has already built prototypes of such sensors, and there is also a Polish company that has an idea for communication between them. JPL is showing initial interest in this technology. Prof Wrochna stressed that work on the mission itself is still at a very early stage.

    JPL is also interested in Polish technologies in the context of plans to send another helicopter to Mars. The Rzeszów University of Technology has excellent tools and specialists to research and optimise the propellers of such a vehicle, which will fly in an atmosphere with a density 100 times lower than Earth’s,”

    added the POLSA chief. The agency recently found a Polish company that builds high-quality propellers for motorised aircraft. POLSA is seeking to make contact with JPL to discuss propulsion for a Martian helicopter.

    POLSA also has ambitions to include The Batteries company from the Podkarpackie Aviation Valley in the space programme. This company has developed an industrial method of producing dry batteries that do not contain liquid electrolyte.

    “These types of batteries can withstand extreme temperatures and have high charge and discharge currents without losing their properties. We are currently in talks with major manufacturers and our ambition is to include these batteries in the space programme,”

    informed Prof Wrochna.

    Prof. Wrochna also reminded that in Poland, we have perovskite cell technology and we are building structural elements for space applications. Therefore, there is a possibility of combining these elements, such as batteries, perovskites and structural elements, in a new generation of energy systems for long-term space missions.

    The conclusion is that Polish space technology is attracting the attention of Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA. Cooperation between Polish scientific institutions and companies and JPL opens up prospects for the development and participation of Poland in future space missions, including Mars exploration.

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