JPL DESCANSO - Deep Space Communications and Navigation Center of Excellence

Safe Landing on a Dime

Presented by:
Aron Wolf
Navigation and Mission Design Section 312


The success of numerous future JPL missions critically depends on advanced navigation technologies. In particular, precision landing and hazardous avoidance technologies must be developed in order to assure safe landing and enhance science return. "Precision Landing" is landing close to a predetermined target site; "Hazard Avoidance" is maneuvering to avoid hazards in the landing zone. For Mars Pathfinder, the position uncertainty ellipse at landing was about 300km wide; the requirement currently under discussion for a Mars '05 Lander is about 5km, and this may be reduced to 1km or less for future missions. Both precision landing and hazard avoidance will be required for future missions, to enhance science return and reduce mission risk.

This talk will discuss requirements for precision landing and hazard avoidance and technology development both underway and planned to meet requirements for future missions. Error sources involved in precision landing will be discussed (along with ways to reduce errors), as well as work in progress toward developing precision landing and hazard avoidance capability at JPL for future missions

The Speaker

Aron Wolf is the supervisor of the Inner Planets Mission Analysis Group in the Navigation and Mission Design Section (312), and chairs the Precision Landing / Hazard Avoidance working group. He managed the development of a lidar prototype for entry, descent, and landing and previously specialized in gravity assist trajectory design on the Galileo and Cassini projects. He has a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an undergraduate degree from Brown University.