NASA Dryden Hosts Radar Tests for Next Mars Landing

June 14, 2010, JPL/NASA
This test of the radar system to be used during the August 2012 descent and landing of the NASA Mars rover Curiosity mounted an engineering test model of the radar system onto the nose of a helicopter. Image Credit: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Engineers with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are running diverse trials with a test version of the radar system that will enable NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission to put the Curiosity rover onto the Martian surface in August 2012.

One set of tests conducted over a desert lakebed at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., in May 2010 used flights with a helicopter simulating specific descent paths anticipated for Martian sites.

During the final stage of descent, NASA's Science Laboratory mission will use a "sky crane" maneuver to lower Curiosity on a bridle from the mission's rocket-powered descent stage. The descent stage will carry Curiosity's flight radar.

The testing at Dryden included lowering a rover mockup on a tether from the helicopter to assess how the sky crane maneuver will affect the radar's descent-speed determinations by the radar. The helicopter carried the test radar on a special nose-mounted gimbal.

Helicopter-flown testing has also been conducted at other desert locations for experience in an assortment of terrains. Later in 2010, the team plans to test the higher-altitude, higher-velocity part of Curiosity's radar-aided by flying the test radar on dives by an F/A-18 jet from Dryden.

Explore further: Helicopter Helps Test Radar for 2012 Mars Landing

Related Stories

San Diego Team Delivers Camera for Next Mars Rover

April 7, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Malin Space Science Systems Inc., San Diego, has delivered the two cameras for the Mast Camera instrument that will be the science-imaging workhorse of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, to be launched ...

Mars echo from Italian radar reported

September 19, 2006

Italian and U.S. space agency officials say they've received the first signals from an Italian radar orbiting Mars to search for water or ice on the planet.

Recommended for you

Lyman-alpha emission detected around quasar J1605-0112

February 20, 2018

Using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument astronomers have discovered an extended and broad Lyman-alpha emission in the form of a nebula around the quasar J1605-0112. The finding is reported February 9 ...

'Ultramassive' black holes discovered in far-off galaxies

February 20, 2018

Thanks to data collected by NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope on galaxies up to 3.5 billion light years away from Earth, an international team of astrophysicists has detected what are likely to be the most massive black holes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.