Quantification of Plume-Soil Interaction and Excavation Due to the Sky Crane Descent Stage
- Mehta, Manish
- January 5, 2015.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Additional Creators:
- Vizcaino, Jeffrey
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- The quantification of the particulate erosion that occurs as a result of a rocket exhaust plume impinging on soil during extraterrestrial landings is critical for future robotic and human lander mission design. The aerodynamic environment that results from the reflected plumes results in dust lifting, site alteration and saltation, all of which create a potentially erosive and contaminant heavy environment for the lander vehicle and any surrounding structures. The Mars Science Lab (MSL), weighing nearly one metric ton, required higher levels of thrust from its retro propulsive systems and an entirely new descent system to minimize these effects. In this work we seek to quantify plume soil interaction and its resultant soil erosion caused by the MSL's Sky Crane descent stage engines by performing three dimensional digital terrain and elevation mapping of the Curiosity rover's landing site. Analysis of plume soil interaction altitude and time was performed by detailed examination of the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) still frames and reconstructed inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor data. Results show initial plume soil interaction from the Sky Crane's eight engines began at ground elevations greater than 60 meters and more than 25 seconds before the rovers' touchdown event. During this time, viscous shear erosion (VSE) was dominant typically resulting in dusting of the surface with flow propagating nearly parallel to the surface. As the vehicle descended and decreased to four powered engines plume-plume and plume soil interaction increased the overall erosion rate at the surface. Visibility was greatly reduced at a height of roughly 20 meters above the surface and fell to zero ground visibility shortly after. The deployment phase of the Sky Crane descent stage hovering at nearly six meters above the surface showed the greatest amount of erosion with several large particles of soil being kicked up, recirculated, and impacting the bottom of the rover chassis. Image data obtained from MSL's navigation camera (NAVCAM) pairs on Sols 002, 003, and 016 were used to virtually recreate local surface topography and features around the rover by means of stereoscopic depth mapping. Images taken simultaneously by the left and right navigation cameras located on the rover's mast assembly spaced 42 centimeters were used to generate a three dimensional depth map from flat, two dimensional images of the same feature at slightly different angles. Image calibration with physical hardware on the rover and known terrain features were used to provide scaling information that accurately sizes features and regions of interest within the images. Digital terrain mapping analysis performed in this work describe the crater geometry (shape, radius, and depth), eroded volume, volumetric erosion rate, and estimated mass erosion rate of the Hepburn, Sleepy Dragon, Burnside, and Goulburn craters. Crater depths ranged from five to ten centimeters deep influencing an area as wide as two meters in some cases. The craters formed were highly asymmetrical and generally oblong primarily due to the underlying bedrock formations underneath the surface. Comparison with ground tests performed at the NASA AMES Planetary Aeolian Laboratory (PAL) by Mehta showed good agreement with volumetric erosion rates and crater sizes of large particle soil simulants, providing validation to Earth based ground tests of Martian regolith.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20150002954.
AIAA SciTech 2015; 5-9 Jan. 2015; Kissimmee, FL; United States.
- No Copyright.
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