Electromagnetic braking for Mars spacecraftAerobraking concepts are being studied to improve performance and cost effectiveness of propulsion systems for Mars landers and Mars interplanetary spacecraft. Access to megawatt power levels (nuclear power coupled to high-storage inductive or capacitive devices) on a manned Mars interplanetary spacecraft may make feasible electromagnetic braking and lift modulation techniques which were previously impractical. Using pulsed microwave and magnetic field technology, potential plasmadynamic braking and hydromagnetic lift modulation techniques have been identified. Entry corridor modulation to reduce loads and heating, to reduce vertical descent rates, and to expand horizontal and lateral landing ranges are possible benefits. In-depth studies are needed to identify specific design concepts for feasibility assessments. Standing wave/plasma sheath interaction techniques appear to be promising. The techniques may require some tailoring of spacecraft external structures and materials. In addition, rapid response guidance and control systems may require the use of structurally embedded sensors coupled to expert systems or to artificial intelligence systems.
Holt, A. C. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)