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 Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators
14.12.2018 | DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

nachricht In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet
14.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>