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Space Technology Research Grants

Divert Architectures and Guidance, Navigation, and Control to Enable Pinpoint Landing for Planetary Exploration

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Planetary exploration missions in the future will require pinpoint landing capability (within 100 m) as scientific and safety needs increase. The research training plan put forth here will assess a range of new architectures that meet NASA requirements for pinpoint landing. After hypersonic deceleration, a high-altitude divert maneuver will be performed to target a landing site. Such a maneuver could ease the divert requirements later in the trajectory and might be feasible for missions utilizing low-ballistic coefficient vehicles (that may also have supersonic retropropulsion) that terminate hypersonic deceleration very high up in the atmosphere. The goals of this research study are to analyze implementing this maneuver in proposed Mars missions for performance and feasibility. A numeric trajectory simulator will be used to assess performance in terms of accuracy and propellant mass fraction. A detailed study into guidance, navigation, and control performance in regards to this mission design will also be conducted. Feasibility will be assessed using systems level studies of past and proposed vehicles. Expected outcomes of this study are well-characterized performance qualities of this high-altitude divert maneuver, a vehicle and systems analysis utilizing this architecture, and a prototype guidance, navigation, and control strategy for this maneuver that can achieve pinpoint landing. More »

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