Inconvenient: any heavy spacecraft trying to land vertically on Mars might end up collapsing into a crater made by its own rocket plume 😬
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Interesting article. Counterpoints are: 1) don’t land on deep sand 2) experience with rovers says the regolith is stable 3) plenty of flat bedrock to land on 4) sky crane 5) angled landing thrusters? 6) crater shapes are well understood and likely manageable with landing gear
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Replying to @cirquelar
I’d be interested to know how sure we can be ahead of time about the stability of a particular landing site under the kind of stress a heavy rocket would create. Angled thrusters or some kind of sky crane seem like they’d solve it, if they could work for such a heavy load.

12:08 AM · Oct 24, 2021

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Do you know how reliable the simulations described in the paper are? Is that group the only one doing them?
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I don’t know if they’re the only ones, but in general I think they’re doing the right thing…EXCEPT assuming 2+ meters of pure sand under the lander. That’s just not going to be the case or is easily avoidable.
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Replying to @AstroKatie
No doubt it’s an order of magnitude more exhaust than what we’ve landed with. I continue to advocate the 1st human mission should land at a previously visited rover site. We have all the ground data you’d ever need.
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The paper does point out that heavy landing is difficult, but maybe it just means humans shouldn’t land in at 40 MT vehicle. A titled cargo lander maybe isn’t a problem. A smaller human only landing system would give more stability.
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That seems like the kind of thing we could assess with a fleet of small robotic probes a few years ahead of the actual landing. Drop 5 impactors and then a small camera rover at each of 4 candidate sites, analyze craters, estimate suitability for big-ass tail-sitting rocket?
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I have four answers to that: 1) Gusev Crater 2) Meridiani Planum 3) Gale Crater 4) Jezero Crater We have excellent knowledge of several potential human landing sites.
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