pristajalec ščit mars

Why is NASA trying to crash Earth on Mars?

mars shield lander

An example of SHIELD, a Mars landing concept that would allow low-cost missions to reach the surface of the Red Planet by crashing safely with a folding cushion to cushion the impact. Credit: California Academy of Sciences

The SHIELD Experimental Landing Vehicle is designed to absorb strong impacts such as the crashed areas of the vehicle.

Mars nine times, using cutting-edge parachutes, massive airbags, and jetpacks to safely touch down on the surface. Now engineers are investigating whether or not crashing is the easiest way to get to the Martian surface.

Rather than slow a spacecraft’s high-speed descent before touching down, an experimental lander design called SHIELD (Simplified High Impact Energy Landing Device) would use an accordion-like, collapsible base that acts like the crumple zone of a car and absorbs the energy of a hard impact.

By simplifying the harrowing entry, descent, and landing process, the new design could drastically reduce the cost of landing on Mars. It could also expand options for possible landing sites.

SHIELD is a Mars landing concept that can enable low-cost missions to the surface of Mars using a foldable shock-absorbing cushion to crash safely. credit: NASA

Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center that was founded in 1936. It is owned by NASA and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The laboratory’s primary function is to build and operate a planetary robotic spacecraft, although it also performs missions around Earth’s orbit and astronomy. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network. JPL implements programs in planetary exploration, Earth sciences, space astronomy and technology development, applying its capabilities to technical and scientific problems of national importance.

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« We think we can go to more dangerous areas where we don’t want to risk trying to put in a billion dollar rover with the current landing system, » said SHIELD project manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory based in Southern California. Lou Geers of Propulsion Labs said. « We might even be able to offload many of these to different network sites that are hard to reach. »

Car accident, landing on Mars

Much of SHIELD’s design is greatly influenced by the work done on NASA’s Mars Sample Return mission. The first step in this expedition involves the continuous rover collecting rock samples in airtight metal tubes. In the future, the spacecraft will carry these Martian samples back to Earth. In a small capsule and crashed safely in a secluded place.

While studying approaches to this process, engineers wondered if the general idea was reversible, said Filipbor Kurmarkovic, a SHIELD team member at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

« If you want to land something hard on Earth, why can’t you do it in reverse on Mars? » They said. « And if we can make a hard landing on Mars, we know SHIELD can work on planets or moons with denser atmospheres. »

Armor Prototype Base

This SHIELD base prototype — a foldable Mars lander that allows a spacecraft to deliberately collide with the red planet and absorb the shock — was tested in a landing tower at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on August 12 to land on Mars. . Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The engineers had to demonstrate that SHIELD could shield sensitive electronics during landing to test whether the theory would actually work in practice. The team used the JPL’s 90-foot (27 m) drop tower to test how the stability sample tubes would hold up in the event of a hard landing on Earth. It has a giant ring – called the Bow Launch System – that can launch an object to the surface at the same speed as it would launch it on Mars.

Kurmarkovic previously worked in the automobile industry, testing cars with dolls. In some of these tests, cars are driven on sleds that are accelerated to high speeds and hit a deformed wall or obstacle. There are several ways to speed up the sled, including using a sling that resembles a bow release system.

« The tests we have for SHIELD are like a vertical version of the skate tests, » Kormarkovic said. « But instead of a wall, a sudden stop hits the ground. »


At the age of 12, the team gathered at the drop tower with a prototype of a full-size, foldable SHIELD muffler — an inverted pyramid of metal shock-absorbing rings. Hang the silencer from a grip and insert a smartphone, radio, and accelerometer to simulate the electronics a spacecraft could carry.

Sweating in the summer heat, Shield watches as he slowly climbs to the top of the tower.

JPL drop tower

This drop tower from JPL includes an arc launch system that can launch test objects on Earth at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour, recreating the forces that can be felt during the landing on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

« When I heard the countdown, I got goosebumps, » said Nathan Barba, another member of JPL’s SHIELD project. « The whole team was excited to see if the objects in the prototype would survive the impact. »

In just two seconds, the wait was over: Dhanush’s launcher slammed the shield into the ground at 110 mph (177 km/h). The Mars Lander has an approaching velocity to the surface after atmospheric drag slows it down to an initial velocity of 14,500 mph (23,335 km/h) as it enters the Martian atmosphere.

Previous SHIELD tests used an earthen « landing zone, » but in this test, the team placed a 2-inch (5 cm) thick steel plate on the ground for landing heavier than a Mars spacecraft. A built-in accelerometer later revealed that SHIELD had been hit with a force of about one million newtons, the equivalent of 112 tons.

High-speed camera footage of the test shows the SHIELD impact at a slight angle, then rising about 3.5 feet (1 m) into the air before overturning. The team suspects that the steel plate caused the buoyancy, as there was no buoyancy in previous tests.

After dismantling the prototype and recovering the simulated electronic payload, the team found that the embedded devices — even smartphones — survived.

« The only hardware that got damaged was some plastic components, which we weren’t worried about, » Geers said. “Overall, this test was a success!”

next step? Design the rest of the probe in 2023 and see how far their concept can go.

#NASA #crash #Earth #Mars

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