This question comes from NASA and is the NASA's Balance Mass Challenge: Using "Dead Weight" on Mars Spacecraft to Advance Science and Technology.

While landing on Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) system ejected approximately 300 kg of Balance mass to offset its center of gravity before atmospheric entry and then rebalance its center of gravity after atmospheric entry. This 300 kg might be used on future missions for Mars-related science and technology applications.

The question NASA hopes to answer is, "If you had up to 150 kg of ejectable mass prior to entry and another 150 kg during the entry and landing phase of a Mars mission, what could you do with it that was useful and advances knowledge in a scientific or technological way?"


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    $\begingroup$ Absolutely not fit for SE - this is not a discussion forum. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ I have to agree, this is too broad and primarily opinion based. Tho my first thought was planetary penetrators delivering epoxy resin protected science packages, perhaps seismometers, radiation and other environment measuring packages or anything like it. Impact plume and later settled ejecta could also be spectrally analyzed by its mothership or Mars orbiters. But there's an infinite number of ways of utilizing a 2 x 150 kg payload for something scientifically useful, even if you can't control when exactly they're going to be released or over what. $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ Shucks, it would have lead to some fun answers. Thank you for the comment. $\endgroup$
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 3:07


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