Next-Generation Inflatable Mars Landing Gear to Get a Test during Launch on Nov. 1

By Aahil

November  02, 2022

Technology that could enable humans to land heavy items on Mars will be tested in space early next week.

Vandenberg Space Force Base in California will launch the Joint Polar Surveyor System-2 weather satellite early Tuesday morning on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

JPSS-2, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel that will improve weather forecasts and monitor climate change, is not the Atlas V's only cargo.

Engineers are considering LOFTID, an extendable aeroshell heat shield, for Mars missions.

NASA's golf-cart-sized Spirit and Opportunity rovers used bouncing airbags to cushion their falls.

These saucer-like structures compress to launch on conventional rockets.

They inflate greatly upon arrival to their planetary destination, perhaps producing enough air drag to land objects much larger than Perseverance or Curiosity.

NASA has tested inflatable aeroshells on land and in the air, including a 2015 balloon launch above Hawaii.

Mission team members will analyze LOFTID's descent data to better comprehend expandable aeroshells' capabilities and possibilities.

She added this technique might enable new expeditions to Mars, Venus, and Saturn's largest moon, Titan, due to its dense atmosphere.

Expandable aeroshells like LOFTID could help ULA safely return Vulcan Centaur's first-stage Blue Origin BE-4 engines to Earth