The SSERVI Class team just launched a new website for Planetary Landings. With agreements from some of the world’s leading experts in lander plume effects science, modeling, and mitigation technologies (including relevant robotics, AI, and ISRU), the team will collaborate in solving challenges in support of lunar and other planetary landings. Many commercial spacecraft companies have joined the team too, agreeing to share data and requirements as scientists move forward to solve issues related to plume effects.

Membership in the landing team is open to all with interest and relevant expertise.

When rockets land on planets, the rocket exhaust produces dramatically different effects depending on the gravity and size of the spacecraft, the mechanical strength and porosity of the soil, and the density of the atmosphere. In lunar landings, a spacecraft the size of the Apollo Lunar Module will blow away more than a ton of soil, dust, and rocks at high velocity. For human-class landers on Mars, the supersonic jet will dig a deep, narrow crater that redirects a jet of gas carrying rocks and sand back up at the landing spacecraft.

We need to understand the physics of these effects so we can predict and control them. The Apollo 12 Lunar Module landed on the Moon just 160 m away from the Surveyor 3 spacecraft, and the spray of sand and dust from the Lunar Module thoroughly scoured and pitted the Surveyor’s surface. This kind of sandblasting can ruin optics and thermal control surfaces. The impact of rocks can destroy hardware. The chemicals in the rocket exhaust can disturb scientific measurements in the landing zone.

Strategies to mitigate these effects include building landing pads on the Moon or Mars. To do so, we need to develop the robotics with technologies that use the planets’ local resources as building materials. We also need to develop the artificial intelligence so these robots can function autonomously, escaping limitations of the speed-of-light communications delay back to Earth.

The CLASS Planetary Landing Team includes world-leading experts in these topic areas. They have already made significant progress developing the science and technology to enable safe, effective landings on other planets, and are ready to support the lunar and Martian landings of the future.

For more, visit:

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: CLASS/SSERVI Teams

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