Tech

July 27, 2012

Dryden helped JPL calibrate Mars Science Lab radar

by Raphael Jaffe
Staff Writer

One of the key systems of the upcoming landing of the Mars Science Lab is a new pulse-Doppler radar. The Terminal Descent Sensor provides velocimetric and altitude data.

Its rigorous test program included two series of flight tests at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.

JPL field test lead Jim Montgomery presented a colloquium on the tests to the Dryden community July 25.

The test program uses a “test it as it flies” philosophy. It thus included the low altitude, low velocity regime up to the anticipated approach angles and speeds of the descent.

The first Dryden involvement was the use of a helicopter-suspended test model over Rogers Dry Lake. Altitude data was compared to GPS ground truth values. The flat terrain of Rogers made it possible to eliminate any errors involved with terrain variations. This made data analysis more direct. The first TDS tests were in July 2006, and showed issues were resolved as development continued. The Rogers Dry Lake helicopter tests were done in May, 2010

A joint Dryden-JPL team worked very hard to find the way to reproduce the landing angles and velocities anticipated. The Dryden F/A-18 pilots found the required involved flight paths. These involved a vertical dive of the inverted aircraft. The engineering model of the Terminal Descent Sensor was housed under the F/A-18 in a Quick Test Experimental Pod.

From May to June, 2011 there were 21 hours of test flights. Data taken for 44 minutes during these tests matched the Mars Science Lab carrier stage flight profile. At this stage of the mission, the carrier is free swinging, suspended from its parachute. The data collected was sufficient to fine-tune the software, to ensure it was calibrated as accurately as possible prior to Curiosity’s landing.

Montgomery expressed his appreciation. “You should be proud of your professionalism,” he told Dryden employees.

There were more than 70 people involved in conducting the tests.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA photograph

NASA begins sixth year of airborne Antarctic ice change study

NASA photograph by Michael Studinger NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory is shown in its parking spot on the ramp at the Aeropuerto Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo in Punta Arenas, Chile, after its transit flight from NASA...
 
 
NASA photograph by Patrick Rogers

Scientific balloon launch highlights NASA exhibit at Balloon Fiesta

NASA photograph by Jay Levine Magdi Said, technology manager for NASA’s Scientific Balloon Program office at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, explains elements of NASA’s use of science balloons.   A live t...
 
 
NASA photograph by John Sonntag

Preparing for Antarctic flights in California desert

NASA photograph by John Sonntag The constellation Ursa Major looms over a GPS-equipped survey vehicle and a ground station to its left at El Mirage Dry Lake. By comparing elevation readings from both GPS sources, researchers ca...
 

 
NASA photograph by Tom Tschida

NASA-pioneered Automatic Ground-Collision Avoidance System operational

NASA photograph by Jim Ross The U.S. Air Force’s F-16D Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology (ACAT) test aircraft banks over NASA’s Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center during a March 2009 flight.  ...
 
 
USF/WHOI/MBARI/NASA image

U.S. initiates prototype system to gauge national marine biodiversity

USF/WHOI/MBARI/NASA image NASA satellite data of the marine environment will be used in prototype marine biodiversity observation networks to be established in four U.S. locations, including the Florida Keys, pictured here. The...
 
 
NASA photograph by David C. Bowman

NASA helicopter test a smashing success

NASA photograph by David C. Bowman Technicians at NASA Langley pulled a helicopter 30 feet into the air before dropping it to test crashworthy systems.   The successful crash test of a former Marine helicopter could help l...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>