ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository

In-Flight Experience of the Mars Science Laboratory Guidance, Navigation, and Control System for Entry, Descent, and Landing
San Martin, M.
Presented at:
Porto 2014
Full paper:

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) project landed successfully the rover Curiosity in Gale crater in August 5, 2012, thus demonstrating and validating a series of technical innovations and advances which resulted in a quantum leap in Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) performance relative to previous missions. These included the first use at Mars of Entry Guidance to reduce the size of the landing ellipse and the first use of the SkyCrane landing architecture to enable the placement of a one ton class rover on the surface of the red planet. Both of these advances required innovations in the design, analysis and testing of the Guidance, Navigation, and Control system. This paper will start with a high-level description of the MSL EDL/GN&C system design and performance requirements, followed by a brief discussion of the risks and uncertainties as they were understood prior to landing, and the actual in-flight GN&C performance as reconstructed from telemetry. Finally, this paper will address areas of improvements for future Mars EDL missions.