NASA Conducts Successful Test Flights For Mars Landing Technology | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date

Airborne Unlimited-
Monday

Airborne Unmanned-
Alt. Wednesdays

Airborne Flight Training-Alt. Wednesdays

Airborne Unlimited-
Friday

Airborne Special Programs!
Airborne-YouTube Airborne Unlimited--10.26.20 Airborne-Unmanned--10.14.20   Airborne-Flight Training--10.21.20 Airborne Unlimited--10.23.20  The 2020 Avionics Innovation Preview!

Airborne On ANN

Airborne Unlimited--10.26.20

Airborne-Unmanned--10.14.20

Airborne-Flight Training--10.21.20

Airborne Unlimited--10.23.20

Airborne's Annual April 1st Episode

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

NASA Conducts Successful Test Flights For Mars Landing Technology

ADAPT System Flown On Masten Xombie Platform

It's tricky to get a spacecraft to land exactly where you want. That's why the area where the Mars rover Curiosity team had targeted to land was an ellipse that may seem large, measuring 12 miles by 4 miles.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA have been developing cutting-edge technologies that would enable spacecraft to land at a specific location on Mars -- or any other planetary body -- with more precision than ever before. In collaboration with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, CA they have recently tested these technologies on board a high-tech demonstration vehicle called the Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT).

ADAPT is a test system built on Masten's XA-0.1B "Xombie" vertical-launch, vertical-landing reusable rocket. The Xombie platform provides a good approximation of Mars-like descent conditions through high-speed descent rates at low altitudes. Those conditions are difficult to achieve through conventional flight test platforms. Onboard this rocket, two sophisticated lander technologies were recently tested: Terrain Relative Navigation with a sensor called the Lander Vision System (LVS), and the Guidance for Fuel-Optimal Large Diverts (G-FOLD) algorithm. "No previous Mars lander has used onboard surface imaging to achieve a safe and precise touchdown, but a future spacecraft could use LVS and G-FOLD to first autonomously determine its location and then optimally fly to its intended landing site," said Nikolas Trawny, ADAPT's principal investigator at JPL. "All of this happens on board, without human intervention, and in real time."

ADAPT had two successful test flights, one on Dec. 4, 2014, and the second on Dec. 9. In both cases, the rocket reached a maximum altitude of 1,066 feet before beginning its descent.

The terrain-relative navigation capability provided by LVS allows Xombie to precisely determine its position without requiring GPS. To do so, ADAPT first takes a series of pictures of the terrain below it during descent. These pictures are then compared to an image of the terrain stored onboard, allowing the vehicle to autonomously find its position relative to the landing site. The spacecraft can then use this information to correct its course to get as close to the targeted landing site as possible within its capability, and make a smooth, pinpoint landing.

G-FOLD is an algorithm, developed at JPL and at the University of Texas at Austin, that calculates the optimal path to divert a spacecraft to a target landing site in real time. For the first time, G-FOLD allows onboard calculation of divert trajectories that obtain the maximum performance from every kilogram of propellant.

The combination of LVS and G-FOLD allowed the Xombie rocket to begin to change the course of its descent at about 623 feet in the air on December 9. The rocket then flew the newly calculated course to successfully reach the target landing pad located 984 feet to the east.

"This represents a huge step forward in our future capabilities for safe and precise Mars landing, and demonstrates a highly effective approach for rapid, low-cost validation of new technologies for the entry, descent and landing of spacecraft," said Chad Edwards, chief technologist of the Mars Exploration Directorate at JPL. "This same technology has valuable applications to landing on the moon, asteroids and other space targets of interest."

(Images provided by NASA)

FMI: www.nasa.gov


Advertisement

More News

Klyde Morris (10.26.20)

Klyde Is Aware That Even The Space Program Is Beholden To The Whims Of Cyberspace... FMI: www.klydemorris.com>[...]

Airborne 10.26.20: Fifth G700, Harrison Ford, Citation CJ Repairs

Also: 1st US-Assembled A220, Sporty's Intro's New LTF Course, Capt. Judy Cameron Scholarship, Loyal Wingman 1st Taxi Gulfstream's fifth G700 flight-test aircraft has taken flight, >[...]

Airborne-Flight Training 10.21.20: CAP -- USAF, IMC Club, Online Upset Training

Also: Second Amendment to SFAR 118, West Houston Airport, Space Test Fundamentals, Adversary Training We have a packed episode today filled with the latest news in flight training,>[...]

ANN FAQ: Submit a News Story!

Have A Story That NEEDS To Be Featured On Aero-News? Here’s How To Submit A Story To Our Team Some of the greatest new stories ANN has ever covered have been submitted by our>[...]

Airborne 10.23.20: P2010 TDI Cert, OSIRIS-REx, MultiGP Championships

Also: F-22's Intercept Russians, WAI Scholarships, Honeywell-Pipistrel, Dufour Demo's eVTOL TECNAM has received a Type Certificate for the P2010 TDI from EASA. The P2010 TDI certif>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2020 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC