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Mars Science Laboratory entry, descent, and landing system

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11 Author(s)
Steltzner, A. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA ; Kipp, D. ; Chen, A. ; Burkhart, D.
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In 2010, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission will pioneer the next generation of robotic entry, descent, and landing (EDL) systems by delivering the largest and most capable rover to date to the surface of Mars. In addition to landing more mass than prior missions to Mars, MSL will offer access to regions of Mars that have been previously unreachable. By providing an EDL system capable of landing at altitudes as high as 2 km above the reference areoid, as defined by the Mars Orbiting Laser Altimeter (MOLA) program, MSL will demonstrate sufficient performance to land on a large fraction of the Martian surface. By contrast, the highest altitude landing to date on Mars has been the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) MER-B at 1.44 km below the areoid. The coupling of this improved altitude performance with latitude limits as large as 60 degrees off of the equator and a precise delivery to within 10 km of a surface target will allow the science community to select the MSL landing site from thousands of scientifically interesting possibilities. In meeting these requirements, MSL is extending the limits of the EDL technologies qualified by the Mars Viking, Mars Pathfinder, and MER missions. This paper discusses the MSL EDL architecture, system, and subsystem design and discusses some of the challenges faced in delivering such an unprecedented rover payload to the surface of Mars

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Aerospace Conference, 2006 IEEE

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