Mars Science Helicopter (MSH) is a second-generation 31.2-kg Mars helicopter designed to carry a 5-kg science payload up to 13.3 km in range in single flight, or maintain 6.5 minutes hover time. Mid-Air Helicopter Delivery (MAHD) is a new Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) architecture to enable in situ mobility for Mars science at lower cost than previous missions. It uses a jetpack to slow down a MSH after separation from the backshell, and reach aerodynamic conditions suitable for helicopter take-off in mid air, removing the need for a dedicated landing system. For given aeroshell dimensions, only MAHD’s lander-free approach leaves enough room in the aeroshell to accommodate the largest rotor option for MSH. This drastically improves flight performance and allows +150% increased science payload mass. Compared to heritage EDL approaches, the simpler MAHD architecture is also likely to reduce cost, and enables access to more hazardous and higher-elevation terrains on Mars.
Jeff Delaune is a robotics technologist in the Aerial Mobility Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His interests include analysis, design, implementation, and testing of new technology for planetary exploration, with a particular focus on autonomous aerial systems and vision-based navigation so far. Jeff is part of the Guidance, Navigation and Control team for NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. He received his Ph.D. in Robotics from Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE, France) in 2013, after a M.S. in Astronautics and Space Engineering from Cranfield University (United Kingdom), and a B.S./M.S. in Engineering from École Centrale de Nantes (France).
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