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Implications of Wind-Assisted Aerial Navigation for Titan Mission Planning and Science ExplorationThe recent Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM) proposal incorporates a montgolfiere (hot air balloon) as part of its architecture. Standard montgolfiere balloons generate lift through heating of the atmospheric gases inside the envelope, and use a vent valve for altitude control. A Titan aerobot (robotic aerial vehicle) would have to use radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) for electric power, and the excess heat generated can be used to provide thermal lift for a montgolfiere. A hybrid montgolfiere design could have propellers mounted on the gondola to generate horizontal thrust; in spite of the unfavorable aerodynamic drag caused by the shape of the balloon, a limited amount of lateral controllability could be achieved. In planning an aerial mission at Titan, it is extremely important to assess how the moon-wide wind field can be used to extend the navigation capabilities of an aerobot and thereby enhance the scientific return of the mission. In this paper we explore what guidance, navigation and control capabilities can be achieved by a vehicle that uses the Titan wind field. The control planning approach is based on passive wind field riding. The aerobot would use vertical control to select wind layers that would lead it towards a predefined science target, adding horizontal propulsion if available. The work presented in this paper is based on aerodynamic models that characterize balloon performance at Titan, and on TitanWRF (Weather Research and Forecasting), a model that incorporates heat convection, circulation, radiation, Titan haze properties, Saturn's tidal forcing, and other planetary phenomena. Our results show that a simple unpropelled montgolfiere without horizontal actuation will be able to reach a broad array of science targets within the constraints of the wind field. The study also indicates that even a small amount of horizontal thrust allows the balloon to reach any area of interest on Titan, and to do so in a fraction of the time needed by the unpropelled balloon. The results show that using the Titan wind field allows an aerobot to significantly extend its scientific reach, and that a montgolfiere (unpropelled or propelled) is a highly desirable architecture that can very significantly enhance the scientific return of a future Titan mission.
Document ID
20150011962
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Authors
Elfes, A. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Reh, K. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Beauchamp, P. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Fathpour, N. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Blackmore, L. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Newman, C. (California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Kuwata, Y. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Wolf, M. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Assad, C. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
July 1, 2015
Publication Date
March 6, 2010
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Meeting Information
2010 IEEE Aerospace Conference(Big Sky, MT)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other
Keywords
aerobot