The majority of all current missions to bring humans to Mars rely on supplying life support essentials such as Water, Air, and Electricity via a delicate supply chain from Earth, leaving virtually no room for error. AIMS is designed to land on Mars before Humans do, and autonomously prepare a site to sustain a small colony.
Mobility and adaptability will be paramount to success in an unchartered world. Such an operation would require an independent ecosystem of autonomous machinery.
Due to the properties of Entropy as we know it, the only way in which such a mission could successfully jump-start a closed energy ecosystem were if all necessary components landed the planet at once, equipped with sufficient power to complete one full system cycle. To achieve this, a package was designed to equip a modified SLS Block 2 fairing.
Once landed, the excavating will scout for, and prepare a suitable ice mining location. The transporter will then move a mining unit to said location, which will begin milling ice deposits and storing the resultant ice in its container. Once full, it is picked up again by the transporter and brought back to base where the yield is stored and refined.
During operations, the vehicles are going to face hostile environments and extreme weather conditions. They have to be built to withstand them. A prototype of the transporter was built to imagine its rough-terrain navigation capabilities.
Once on-site, the two mining units begin the milling process. The ice, crushed to the density of light firn, is stored in the unit's hull. Their unique crab-like design allows them to assume a suitable position to be picked up and moved from the site by the transporter.
To power the system through a full cycle, the equivalent of about 900 liters of water is required in the form of Hydrogen. Thanks to Martian gravity, the hull of a single mining unit can store a water-equivalent of 9'135L of ice in its hull, weighing effectively just under four tonnes. This yields a staggering 8'235L surplus of potential energy that is then stored at base, where it is split into its elemental components and converted to useful resources.
All scientific research and detailed schematics of the logistical system behind this concept are available upon request. A video showcasing a full mining cycle is currently in production and planned for release in 2021.