Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Simulations Predicted Mars Lander Would Hit Sub-surface

04.06.2008
University of Michigan simulations correctly predicted that the pulsed jets of the Mars Phoenix lander would strip the soil to the subsurface ice or rock as the craft touched down.

University of Michigan simulations correctly predicted that the pulsed jets of the Mars Phoenix lander would strip the soil to the subsurface ice or rock as the craft touched down.

Photos of the area beneath the craft on Friday revealed a hard surface that scientists say may be ice. It could also be rock, and researchers won't know until the Phoenix can dig into the dirt. But it's clear the craft cleared away soil as it landed.

"This is exactly what was predicted by our group," said Nilton Renno, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences. "We've seen the most amazing photos of the hard surface under the thrusters. The brightness and smoothness suggests it is ice."

This would mark the first time a spacecraft has touched ice on another planet, Renno said.

Renno and Manish Mehta, a doctoral student in the same department, performed a series of tests for NASA over the past year in part to determine how the lander would affect the place it touches down. Phoenix's pulsed jet steering and braking system is unique.

Mehta performed the most recent simulations in April at NASA Ames Research Center using properly-sized crushed walnut shells and other fine dust particles to simulate the Martian soil. Mehta showed that the pulsed jets could cause a different, more explosive erosion than the continuous jets of the Viking spacecraft, which landed on Mars in 1976. The Phoenix landing process involved thrusters firing in bursts to slow the craft and guide it.

"In our simulations, the pulsed jets excavated to the hard, icy surface within less than a second. The pulses fluidized the bed under the thrusters, so that the soil behaves like water," Mehta said.

These results were presented at the Phoenix Science Team Meeting at Tucson, Ariz. on May 19 and a site-alteration report was submitted to JPL and Lockheed Martin.

Mehta suggested to the Phoenix science team that they check under its deck on Mars to find exposed ice.

Phoenix landed on Mars on May 25 and will spend the next three months analyzing soil and ice to uncover the history of water on the planet. Its mission is to determine whether the arctic plains there could support microbial life.

Renno is a co-investigator on the mission and lead of the Atmospheric Science Theme Group. He is studying the chemical composition of the soil and clouds in effort to determine how much water Mars has today and had in the past. Mehta is currently working on the reconstruction of the mission landing with NASA engineers at JPL.

For more information:

Mars Phoenix Project site: http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/news.php

U-M scientists simulate the effects of blowing Mars dust on NASA's Phoenix lander, news release and video: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=5903

U-M scientist says Mars winds could pose challenges---but manageable ones---for NASA's Phoenix lander team, 2007 U-M news release: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=5968

Nilton Renno: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=1107

Michigan Engineering:
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. Michigan Engineering boasts one of the largest engineering research budgets of any public university, at more than $130 million annually. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments and a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. The College plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute. Within the College, there is a special emphasis on research in three emerging areas: nanotechnology and integrated microsystems; cellular and molecular biotechnology; and information technology.

Nicole Casal Moore | newswise
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/phoenix/images/press/20080531.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>