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maxon: the Mars landing explained

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16 February 2021

With the impending landing of Perseverance just days away maxon have put together a short video explaining the "seven minutes of terror” associated with the EDL (entry, descent & landing) of the spacecraft.

All landings on Mars are difficult. For NASA’s Perseverance Rover, set to land on Mars on 19 February 2021, this one is particularly tense.

With the biggest supersonic parachute ever sent to another planet, the first helicopter drone Ingenuity onboard and the touchdown site the most challenging terrain on Mars ever attempted, this is one landing not to be missed.

Dr Carlos Bacigalupo, Astrophysicist and Head of R&D at maxon Group, Australia, explains the complex landing sequence. 

The intense Entry, Descent, and Landing phase, known as EDL, begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of Mars’ atmosphere. It takes approximately seven minutes to enter the atmosphere and land safely on the ground. A radio signal takes 11 minutes to travel 204 million kilometers from the surface of Mars to Earth, which causes a lag in communications during EDL and is known as the "seven minutes of terror". During these seven minutes the spacecraft will autonomously slow from about 19,400 km/h when it enters the Martian atmosphere to about 1.6 km/h at touchdown, effectively landing itself. When the signal is sent back to the Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory, Perseverance would have either crashed or landed safely for 4 minutes.

Dr Bacigalupo also covers the maxon brushed and brushless motors that will be used for numerous mission-critical tasks. They will power the small robotic arm in the rover moving the soil samples from station to station and for sealing and depositing the sample containers. There are also six 10mm DC micromotors used to control the tilt of Ingenuity's rotor blades, which determines the direction of flight.