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An Enhanced Modular Terminal Descent Sensor for Landing on Planetary Bodies, Phase I

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Remote Sensing Solutions (RSS) proposes to fill a critical niche in Entry, Descent, and Landing with the design and subsequent development of a terrain relative radar altimeter/velocimeter in support of missions to planetary bodies. This sensor, similar to that of the successful Mars Science Laboratory's Terminal Descent Sensor (MSL-TDS) will 1) expand the range of operation over that of the MSL-TDS and 2) mitigate identified risks due to dust and anomalously low backscatter areas. We will achieve this in part by establishing a Ku-band TDS design. In Phase 1 we will explore compact multi-beam shared aperture antenna designs and system trades to minimize antenna aperture size. In addition, the design approach for the system back-end electronics will be modular, compact, reproducible, and highly versatile. Utilizing RSS' novel, modular reconfigurable digital subsystem will enable us to produce reconfigurable architectures and pulse-timing/geometry. Such a solution is independent of the eventual transmit frequency of operation. As such, Ka-band or even W-band sensors could be produced based on this design for landing scenarios where velocity accuracy or size is a premium, and dust or airborne particulates are not a concern. The Phase 1 will establish a design that not only meets the stated MSL-TDS requirements but exceeds them in terms of sensitivity and range of altitudes of operation. We will simulate the sensor capability over the full range of altitude, velocity, and backscatter ranges. A path for demonstration and space-qualification of critical subsystems and components will be evaluated. At the termination of the Phase 1 we will have a design with of the Ku-band TDS, recommendations for a prototype in the Phase 2, a system weight and power estimate and a path-to-space. More »

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