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ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the drop-that-anywhere dept.
coondoggie writes Taking a page from NASA's rocket powered landing craft from its most recent Mars landing mission, the European Space Agency is showing off a quadcopter that the organization says can steer itself to smoothly lower a rover onto a safe patch of the rocky Martian surface. The ESA said its dropship, known as the StarTiger's Dropter is indeed a customized quadcopter drone that uses a GPS, camera and inertial systems to fly into position, where it then switches to vision-based navigation supplemented by a laser range-finder and barometer to lower and land a rover autonomously.
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ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers

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  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:26PM (#47403477)

    Mars has an atmosphere. Barely - atmospheric pressure is 0.006 earth-atmospheres. Maybe 0.01 if the weather is right and at a low enough point. You'd get bugger-all lift from a 'copter, quad or otherwise. Even in the nice one-third G, that thing isn't flying. It's hard enough getting something down by parachute - those rovers have to be built to take a nasty impact, because even with a huge parachute and low gravity they still hit the ground hard.

  • by GPS Pilot (3683) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:48PM (#47403615)

    If you've never watched "Seven Minutes of Terror," which explains the crazy but successful scheme to lower the Curiousity rover onto Mars, do yourself a favor and go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

    It's the best video the U.S. Government has ever produced.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:52PM (#47403643)

    Nor will GPS help much on Mars. It's like this is a thinly veined cover for developing a military drone for dropping materiel into a battle zone. Everything about it seems geared towards terrestrial use.

  • Re:GPS on Mars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday July 07, 2014 @06:15PM (#47403779)

    a customized quadcopter drone that uses a GPS, camera and inertial systems to fly into position .....

    Yup, hate to break it to you rocket scientists at NASA, but there is a slight flaw in this design for use on Mars.

    I'd suspect those rocket scientists planned to, oh, I dunno, put GPS satellites into orbit around mars prior to landing the rover?

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