Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are testing whether the easiest way to reach the Martian surface is to crash.
NASA has successfully landed on Mars nine times, using parachutes, airbags and jet packs. Now, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been busy testing an unconventional new type of lander, named SHIELD, designed to crash and absorb a strong impact on the surface of Mars.
In a newly released video, engineers have shown the accordion-shaped prototype lander dropped from a tall tower, with some interesting results.
Specific, S.H.I.E.L.D.which stands for Simplified High-Impact Energy Landing Device, with its collapsible bumper on a lander, would have a crumple zone that could theoretically absorb the energy of a strong impact on the surface of Mars, for example .
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Reduce the cost of landing on Mars
According to the NASA statement, the new design could dramatically reduce the cost of landing on Mars by simplifying the harrowing entry process. descent and landing and expand the options of possible landing sites.
“We think we could go to more treacherous areas, where we wouldn’t want to risk trying to place a billion-dollar rover with our current landing systems,” said SHIELD project manager Lou Giersch of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA in Southern California. “Maybe we could even land several of them in different hard-to-reach places to build a network.”he added.
The design is inspired by NASA’s Mars Sample Return Program, which seeks to return valuable samples from the Red Planet to Earth without harm.
To test the design, the team took SHIELD to the top of a 27-meter tower and dropped it to see if the lander’s complicated electronic instruments could survive the bounce.
In tests, SHIELD fell to the ground at 177 kilometers per hour in just 2 seconds. That’s about the speed a lander travels on Mars after atmospheric drag lor brake during your descent and landing.
The accelerometer inside the module measured the impact and found that it had a force of approximately 1 million newtons, which is comparable to 112 tons crashing into SHIELD.
The drop turned out to be a success, by all accounts. SHIELD’s elastic base managed to soften the blow, even though it launched it a meter high. The team suspects that the steel plate was the cause of the rebound, as no rebound occurred in previous tests.
As for the precious cargo, once the dust had settled, the engineering team opened the useful box and inspected the electronic cargo, which included a smartphone, and everything of importance survived.
“The only hardware that was damaged was some plastic components that we weren’t concerned about,” Giersch said. “Overall, this test was a success.”
The next step will be, as always, more tests. According to NASA, engineers will design the rest of a lander in 2023 and see how far his concept can go.