Provide a physical, tangible demonstration of capabilities related to the critical terminal descent/landing phase for an airless body mission
Allow for evaluation of flight-like components of hardware and software in a real, integrated system
Define and prove processes and interactions of the diverse, distributed team and obtain “lessons learned” before the flight build
Train and engage young engineers with hands-on experience
Illustration of the Warm Gas Test Article (WGTA). Credits: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory View large imageWarm Gas Test Article (WGTA) – Provides a platform to develop and test algorithms, sensors, avionics, software, landing legs, and integrated system elements to support autonomous landings on airless bodies, where aero-braking and parachutes are not options.
Cold Gas Test Article (CGTA). Credits: David Higginbotham, NASA Marshall View large imageCold Gas Test Article (CGTA) – Served as a precursor to the WGTA and provided a platform for algorithm development and testing, short-duration (10-s) flights, and autonomously controlled descent.
Designed to emulate robotic flight lander design’s sensor suite, software environment, avionics processors, GN&C algorithms, ground control software, composite decks, and landing legs
Approx. 1 min. flight duration and descends from 30 meters to support complex algorithm testing
Can accommodate 3U or 6U size processor boards
Incorporates Core Flight Executive (cFE) operating environment that allows for modular software applications
12-thruster ACS configuration with option to fire only 6 ACS thrusters. Provides capability to support testing of hazard avoidance or precision landing algorithms. Emulates pulse or throttle system.
Gravity off-set thruster can be set to different g levels to emulate descent onto various airless bodies.
Completed wind tunnel testing of WGTA model to maximize hardware and personnel safety. Testing occurred in June 2010 and simulated both horizontal and vertical flights. Credits: Texas A&M View large image