Challenges of Mars Entry, Descent and Landing
Braun, Robert D.
Manning, Robert M.
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The United States has successfully landed five robotic systems on the surface of Mars. These systems all had landed mass below 0.6 metric tons (t), had landed footprints on the order of hundreds of km and landed at sites below -1 km MOLA elevation due the need to perform entry, descent and landing operations in an environment with sufficient atmospheric density. Current plans for human exploration of Mars call for the landing of 40-80 t surface elements at scientifically interesting locations within close proximity (10’s of m) of pre-positioned robotic assets. This paper summarizes past successful entry, descent and landing systems and approaches being developed by the robotic Mars exploration program to increased landed performance (mass, accuracy and surface elevation). In addition, the entry, descent and landing sequence for a human exploration system will be reviewed, highlighting the technology and systems advances required.