Mars - Escapade
Twin Photon spacecraft helping to study Mars' unique hybrid magnetosphere
In 2021 Rocket Lab was awarded a subcontract by the University of California Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (UCBSSL) to design two Photon spacecraft for a scientific mission to Mars. The Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission, led by Rob Lillis at UCBSSL, is a twin-spacecraft science mission that will orbit two spacecraft around Mars to understand the structure, composition, variability, and dynamics of Mars' unique hybrid magnetosphere. The mission will leverage its unique dual viewpoint on the Mars environment to explore how the solar wind strips atmosphere away from Mars to better understand how its climate has changed over time. ESCAPADE is being developed under NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD). The mission is led by UCBSSL with spacecraft design provided by Rocket Lab. The two spacecraft are planned for launch in 2024 to Mars ridesharing aboard a NASA-provided commercial launch vehicle.