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On the use of a range trigger for the Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent, and Landing

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1 Author(s)
Way, D. ; Langley Res. Center, Nat. Aeronaut. & Space Adm., Hampton, VA, USA

In 2012, during the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) entry vehicle, a 21.5 m Viking-heritage, Disk-Gap-Band, supersonic parachute will be deployed at approximately Mach 2. The baseline algorithm for commanding this parachute deployment is a navigated planet-relative velocity trigger. This paper compares the performance of an alternative range-to-go trigger (sometimes referred to as “Smart Chute”), which can significantly reduce the landing footprint size. Numerical Monte Carlo results, predicted by the POST2 MSL POST End-to-End EDL simulation, are corroborated and explained by applying propagation of uncertainty methods to develop an analytic estimate for the standard deviation of Mach number. A negative correlation is shown to exist between the standard deviations of wind velocity and the planet-relative velocity at parachute deploy, which mitigates the Mach number rise in the case of the range trigger.

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2011 IEEE

Date of Conference:

5-12 March 2011