The plan for a Mars balloon mission proposed by the German Mars Society is now making important advances. With the final report on the preliminary flight system design nearing completion, the German
Mars Society balloon probe team has been invited to present their concepts before the DLR (German Space Agency) space mission assessment committee in 2002.

In support of this effort, the German Mars Society team has been granted DLR funding for studies and tests. Launch is scheduled for 2007 with Ariane 5. The Amsat Germany Mars Orbiter P5-A will fly with the balloon.

Major technical challenges are still faced and need to be addressed in future flight and wind tunnel research. Most important are tests of the inflation in flight and deployment of the balloon. This
process is still a possible mission showstopper.

The Mars Society Germany Balloon Mission is designed to look at Mars from a unique perspective. Many geologic formations that are related
to aquatic erosion are manifest in vertical structures: putative coastlines, layered terrain, gullies, etc. These are best investigated from a platform just a few kilometers above the surface.

In 2007 it would be possible to measure atmospheric data at the ground with the four Netlander and at the same time in the air. A atmospheric package for the balloon is suggested from A.-M. Harri from the Finnish Meterological Institute (which is also delivering a atmospheric package for the four Netlander).

A Magnetometer from the Technical University of Braunschweig (Germany) and a high resolution camera from the Institute of Space Sensor Technology of DLR (Germany) in Berlin should complete the scientific payload. The magnetometer and the high resolution camery are spin-offs of the ESA Rosetta mission.

The German Mars Society team is supported by highly qualified specialists from the Technical University of Munich, and from France and Mars Society Austria.

If selected, the balloon mission would be Germany’s first interplanetary mission and the first mission to the Red Planet directly initiated by the Mars Society.