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Entry, Descent, and Landing Performance of the Mars Phoenix LanderOn May 25, 2008, the Mars Phoenix Lander successfully landed on the northern arctic plains of Mars. An overview of a preliminary reconstruction analysis performed on each entry, descent, and landing phase to assess the performance of Phoenix as it descended is presented and a comparison to pre-entry predictions is provided. The landing occurred 21 km further downrange than the predicted landing location. Analysis of the flight data revealed that the primary cause of Phoenix s downrange landing was a higher trim total angle of attack during the hypersonic phase of the entry, which resulted in Phoenix flying a slightly lifting trajectory. The cause of this higher trim attitude is not known at this time. Parachute deployment was 6.4 s later than prediction. This later deployment time was within the variations expected and is consistent with a lifting trajectory. The parachute deployment and inflation process occurred as expected with no anomalies identified. The subsequent parachute descent and powered terminal landing also behaved as expected. A preliminary reconstruction of the landing day atmospheric density profile was found to be lower than the best apriori prediction, ranging from a few percent less to a maximum of 8%. A comparison of the flight reconstructed trajectory parameters shows that the actual Phoenix entry, descent, and landing was close to pre-entry predictions. This reconstruction investigation is currently ongoing and the results to date are in the process of being refined.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Desai, Prasun N. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Prince, Jill L. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Wueen, Eric M. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Cruz, Juan R. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Grover, Myron R. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
August 18, 2008
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
AIAA 2008-7346
Meeting Information
AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference(Honolulu, HI)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 439654.02.08
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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