NASA tests SHIELD technology for spacecraft hard landing

(ORDO NEWS) — Over the years, NASA has used various mechanisms, from giant airbags and parachutes to jetpacks, to ensure a soft landing of its rovers on the surface of the Red Planet.

Now, the agency plans to test a completely new method , which involves a deliberate collision of the spacecraft with the Martian surface, the protection of which will be provided by “crumple zones”.

Recall that in terrestrial vehicles, deformation zones are special parts of the body of a car, railway car, fuselage of an aircraft that absorb energy that occurs as a result of a collision, derailment or emergency landing of an aircraft, which helps protect passengers from the destructive effects of force. hit.

As NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) notes , scientists are already working on the concept of an experimental lander, which they call SHIELD (English Simplified High Impact Energy Landing Device).

This revolutionary technology would allow spacecraft to be sent to the most inaccessible regions of Mars, which are currently not possible or too risky to visit.

The warp zone will change the rules of the game

SHIELD, according to JPL, will have a foldable base that will act as a car’s crumple zone and absorb energy from impact with the Martian surface.

To test the new method, the engineers “packed” the smartphone into a SHIELD mock-up and dropped it from a height; SHIELD crashed into the ground at over 160 kilometers per hour.

The experiment, according to JPL, was a “resounding success.”

“The only thing that was damaged were some plastic components that we were not worried about,” Lou Hirsch, SHIELD project leader, commented on the result of the experiment.

Beyond the red planet

JPL claims that the use of this technology could significantly reduce the cost of landing on Mars, since the new approach will save any unmanned mission from the painful process of entry, descent and soft landing.

“We’ll be able to go to more treacherous regions [of Mars] where we wouldn’t want to risk trying to land a billion-dollar rover using our current landing systems,” Hirsch said.

“Perhaps now we can send several devices to the most inaccessible places to build a whole network.”

In addition, this technology can open the door to an era of numerous space missions, the purpose of which will be to land on the surface of one or another body of the solar system .

“If we can make a hard landing on Mars,” added SHIELD team member Velibor Chormarkovic, “then there is no doubt that SHIELD will work on other planets or even satellites with a denser atmosphere [we are talking about Titan , a moon of Saturn.”

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