NASA Prototype Lander Legs Mars Sample Return Mission
We’ve seen NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) recently complete its latest motor test, now a prototype Mars Sample Return lander shows how it’s capable of absorbing the impact of the heaviest spacecraft ever to touch down on the Red Planet at 5,016 pounds (2,275 kilograms). The spacecraft would be carrying a rocket that would launch Perseverance’s samples to an awaiting orbiter.



To observe how energy would be absorbed by the lander during landing, JPL engineers dropped a three-eighths scale early-concept lander model onto a hard floor, while a second test centered on slamming a full-size footpad into simulated Martian soil. The data collected from these test can be applied to the final lander as they refine the design. In case of disaster, engineers also a dangled a prototype from a pendulum that sent the mini-lander to the ground at an angle.

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NASA Prototype Lander Legs Mars Sample Return Mission

There’s already a night-and-day difference between this lander and the design we started with. You’d never be able to bend these steel rods with just your hands. It’s pretty insane seeing just how much force goes into them, bending them nearly in half after a drop,” said Morgan Montalvo, a JPL engineer working on the tests.

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