2013.A.1.1 MARS_DROP: Mars Microprobe Landing Architecture


Matthew Eby(1)

  1. The Aerospace Corporation, USA




Mars, Microprobe


MARSDROP is an Aerospace research project to adapt Aerospace’s Reentry Breakup Recorder (REBR) vehicle to a Planetary microprobe. The existing REBR aeroshell is well suited for a Mars entry (aerodynamically stable), it is simply a matter of adding a descent and landing system to enable a new planetary science probe. Our research objective is to demonstrate a proof-of-concept landing system that leaves sufficient volume for a useful scientific payload. The landing system involves architecting three systems; 1.) Backshell separation mechanism, 2.) Deployment of an aerodynamic drag device, and 3.) Terminal landing hardware. A three-dof entry simulation demonstrated the advantage of a microprobe entry to Mars, as the light probe has a subsonic transition well above the planetary surface. A volume and power efficient architecture was developed, combining a thermal knife restraint of a spring-loaded backshell with a piloted parawing main. The gliding and steerable aspects of the parawing results in significant volume savings over competing designs. Basic sizing of the landing system demonstrates the feasibility of landing a scientifically useful microprobe on Mars. The project aims to complete proof-of-concept testing on Earth using high altitude balloons to match the parachute deployment conditions on Mars. As the project proceeds, we seek collaborations with the broader technical and scientific community to develop a full mission concept, including desirable scientific payloads. Towards this end, the presentation outlines basic payload sizing and design parameters.


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