Overview of the Mars Sample Return Earth Entry Vehicle
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NASA's Mars Sample Return (MSR) project will bring Mars surface and atmosphere samples back to Earth for detailed examination. Langley Research Center's MSR Earth Entry Vehicle (EEV) is a core part of the mission, protecting the sample container during atmospheric entry, descent, and landing. Planetary protection requirements demand a higher reliability from the EEV than for any previous planetary entry vehicle. An overview of the EEV design and preliminary analysis is presented, with a follow-on discussion of recommended future design trade studies to be performed over the next several years in support of an MSR launch in 2018 or 2020. Planned topics include vehicle size for impact protection of a range of sample container sizes, outer mold line changes to achieve surface sterilization during re-entry, micrometeoroid protection, aerodynamic stability, thermal protection, and structural materials selection.