NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
We propose to develop a new landing approach that significantly reduces development time and obviates the most complicated, most expensive and highest-risk phase of any landing mission. The concept is a blanket- or carpet-like two-dimensional (2D) lander with a low mass/drag ratio, which allows the lander to efficiently shed its approach velocity and provide a more robust structure for landing integrity. The flat nature and low mass of these landers allows dozens to be stacked for transport and distributed en masse to the surface. The concept leverages recent developments in microelectronics and MEMS technology, such as the lab-on-a-chip, integrated RF comm, and laser probes. The mass and size of these highly capable technologies also reduce the required stiffness and mass of the structure to the point that compliant, lightweight, robust landers are possible. These landers should be capable of passive landings, avoiding the costly, complex use of rockets, radar and associated structure and control systems.