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The MIRIAM-2 project

MIRIAM-2 is a technology test of the ARCHIMEDES project from the Mars Society Germany (Aerial Robot Carrying High resolution Imaging, Magnetometer Experiment and Direct Environmental Sensors), with the goal to send a probe to Mars with a folded balloon, which then will be deployed and inflated. The balloon will then enter the martian atmosphere to make measurements. Also MIRIAM-2 is an improved version of the MIRIAM-1 project, which was in space in 2008 with a Rexus 4 sounding rocket. It is supposed to be launched into space in fall 2019 on a sounding rocket from Kiruna/Sweden and is currently being run by the Mars Society Germany, members of the VFR and other volunteers. The manufacturing of the balloon and also the deployment mechanism and the system electronics have been completely redesigned. The goals of the project are also a successful deployment and inflation of the balloon in space and also the monitoring of the reentry behaviour of the system via measurement instruments in the balloon pod.

Therefore it is necessary to do some preliminary tests to make sure that everything is working as planned when it is launched on the rocket. Among other things the deployment mechanism was tested for its ability to deploy the balloon under weightless conditions, so it is in the necessary configuration prior to the inflation. Therefore the MIRIAM-2 team has taken part in two scientific parabolic flight campaigns conducted by ESA in Bordeaux in 2015 and 2017. The report about the results can be read here.

Below the most important of the other performed tests are described.

Novespace Workshop

The experiment

MIRIAM-2 parabolic flights


Mars Society Germany (german)

Association for promotion of space travel (VFR) (german)

The project

The balloon this time was manufactured by welding the Upilex panels, contrary to the MIRIAM 1 balloon, which was done with taping. Completion of the balloon was on Nov. 16, 2013:

© Mars Society Germany
First inflation test with pressurized air after completion of construction. The balloon diameter is 4 m.

© Mars Society Germany
View through the balloon as seen from the pod camera

In 2016 finally the flight balloon for the sounding rocket flight was completed, which looks like the test balloon in 2013, but has more measurement sensors. Below are a few pictures.

© Mars Society Germany
Coronation of the material before the taping of reinforcements

For further tests in preparation of the repeated parabolic flight in 2017 see here, and scroll down to "Preparations 2017".

Another milestone was also reached by the end of 2013: The new deployment mechanism was successfully tested with a dummy mass in place of the balloon (click the picture for a complete article (german)):

© Mars Society Germany / UniBw Munich
Description of the deployment mechanism

On Feb. 18, 2014 finally an inflation test was successfully run in the vacuum chamber of the IABG in Ottobrunn. Even the TV was there witnessing this test. Further reports in German can be viewed here (Report MSD) and here (press review).
This balloon was also used for the zero-g flights in 2015 and 2017.

© Mars Society Germany
MSD Team in front of the open vacuum chamber

© Mars Society Germany
Cutting out the south pole opening for the insertion of the instrument pod