For gathering important research data.
The MARS (Mayflower Autonomus Research Ship) project is not a mission to Mars but a mission at sea. On our planet. In 2020, at the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Mayflower, which set sail from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA, a trimaran without a crew will set sail across the Atlantic. However, it will have flying drones, which will collect data (on meteorological, oceanographic and climatic conditions) for research purposes.
The craft will utilise wind and solar energy (via an electric motor), which should provide unlimited range.
The trimaran is 32.5 m wide and 16.8 m long. Under wind power it will reach up to 23 miles per hour; when run by its electric motor (solar powered) it will develop speeds up to 14 miles per hour. With respect to the distance it means that MARS could cross the Atlantic in a week or 10 days. But only in theory. The experts are convinced the crossing will take a few months.
The MARS project is the brainchild of the Plymouth University, an independent expert for vessels MSubs and the Shuttleworth Design company which designs yachts.