Klein Lecture in Aerospace Engineering
On August 5th 2012, Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully landed the Curiosity rover on Mars. Curiosity is the largest rover ever sent to another planet. The landing system seemed wild to many observers, but it was in fact the result of carefully applied engineering reason and analysis. Entry, descent, and landing technology sometimes looks a bit foolish to the uninitiated.
Dr. Steltzner will discuss four topics related to entry, descent, and landing: first, the history and development of the Curiosity EDL system and, in particular, the history of the Sky Crane landing system; second, differing touchdown systems, their architectures and techniques, including airbags, legged landers, pallets, sky cranes, and how they create understandable, predictable and testable systems; third, sensor technology and bandwidth and how the requirements for such bandwidth might vary across various solar system surface destinations; and finally, a brief treatment of entry technology, ballistic coefficients, inflatable heat shields and high altitude atmospheric variation will be offered.