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Backup strategies for Mars landing


Entry, descent and landing (EDL) is probably the most difficult and risky phase of a human mission to Mars. It is in general acknowledged that once the vehicle enters the atmosphere, there is no abort to orbit option, the vehicle must land on the surface. Whatever the EDL systems for Mars, the qualification might be very difficult, very expensive and the risks could still be very high, especially for the first missions. Risks could nevertheless be mitigated if backup options existed during the last phase of EDL. If an important problem is encountered during the last minutes of the descent, a possible option is to eject the astronauts and to use individual parachutes for braking. Considering the density of the atmosphere and possible parachutes diameters, parachutes are not sufficient to land safely on Mars. It is therefore proposed to add small propulsion systems, which could be attached to the seat of the astronaut. The feasibility of that proposal is examined. In the event of an emergency landing, the astronaut will still have to reach the base quickly to survive because of his limited oxygen autonomy. An automatic rover can be sent to increase this autonomy and potentially facilitate the repatriation of the astronaut. If he is able to move, the astronaut will be able to choose to get closer to the base or to the rescue by himself. This choice will be motivated by the astronaut's ability to determine the state of his resources, his ability to move and the path to take.


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hal-03106801 , version 1 (12-01-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03106801 , version 1


Jean-Marc Salotti, Julien Doche. Backup strategies for Mars landing. IAC 2020 - 71st International Astronautical Congress, Oct 2020, Virtual, France. pp.1-6. ⟨hal-03106801⟩
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