Advances in Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) for Planetary Exploration

A special issue of Aerospace (ISSN 2226-4310). This special issue belongs to the section "Astronautics & Space Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (9 February 2024) | Viewed by 3159

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Eudossiana 18, 00184 Rome, Italy
Interests: optimal control; trajectory optimization; attitude control; ascent trajectory; rocket control; convex optimization; reinforcement learning
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Special Issue on Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) in planetary exploration focuses on the challenges and advancements in safely delivering spacecraft and rovers to celestial bodies such as Mars and asteroids. EDL plays a critical role in ensuring successful missions by addressing the complexities and risks associated with the descent and landing phase. 

The topics covered in this Special Issue include a number of topics, among which atmospheric entry dynamics, trajectory design, navigation and guidance systems, and hazard avoidance techniques. Researchers and professionals are invited to contribute original research articles, review papers, and case studies that provide valuable insights and advancements in EDL technologies.

Understanding the dynamics of atmospheric entry and its effects on spacecraft during descent is crucial for mission success. Additionally, optimizing trajectory design to achieve precise landings and minimize fuel consumption is of great importance. Navigation and guidance systems, along with hazard avoidance technologies, ensure accurate positioning and maneuvering while mitigating potential risks. 

By bringing together experts from various disciplines, this Special Issue aims to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange. The shared expertise and research findings will contribute to the development of safer and more accurate landing techniques on Mars, asteroids, and beyond. 

Overall, the Special Issue seeks to expand our understanding of EDL systems and pave the way for advancements in planetary exploration. By addressing the challenges and exploring innovative approaches, researchers will contribute to unlocking the mysteries of our solar system and shaping the future of space exploration.

Dr. Alessandro Zavoli
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Aerospace is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL)
  • planetary exploration
  • atmospheric entry
  • trajectory design
  • navigation and guidance
  • hazard avoidance
  • Mars exploration
  • asteroid missions
  • spacecraft landing
  • EDL systems

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

23 pages, 121030 KiB  
Article
Dense Feature Matching for Hazard Detection and Avoidance Using Machine Learning in Complex Unstructured Scenarios
by Daniel Posada and Troy Henderson
Aerospace 2024, 11(5), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11050351 - 28 Apr 2024
Viewed by 534
Abstract
Exploring the Moon and Mars are crucial steps in advancing space exploration. Numerous missions aim to land and research in various lunar locations, some of which possess challenging surfaces with unchanging features. Some of these areas are cataloged as lunar light plains. Their [...] Read more.
Exploring the Moon and Mars are crucial steps in advancing space exploration. Numerous missions aim to land and research in various lunar locations, some of which possess challenging surfaces with unchanging features. Some of these areas are cataloged as lunar light plains. Their main characteristics are that they are almost featureless and reflect more light than other lunar surfaces. This poses a challenge during navigation and landing. This paper compares traditional feature matching techniques, specifically scale-invariant feature transform and the oriented FAST and rotated BRIEF, and novel machine learning approaches for dense feature matching in challenging, unstructured scenarios, focusing on lunar light plains. Traditional feature detection methods often need help in environments characterized by uniform terrain and unique lighting conditions, where unique, distinguishable features are rare. Our study addresses these challenges and underscores the robustness of machine learning. The methodology involves an experimental analysis using images that mimic lunar-like landscapes, representing these light plains, to generate and compare feature maps derived from traditional and learning-based methods. These maps are evaluated based on their density and accuracy, which are critical for effective structure-from-motion reconstruction commonly utilized in navigation for landing. The results demonstrate that machine learning techniques enhance feature detection and matching, providing more intricate representations of environments with sparse features. This improvement indicates a significant potential for machine learning to boost hazard detection and avoidance in space exploration and other complex applications. Full article
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16 pages, 1586 KiB  
Article
Mission Performance Assessment of the Recovery and Vertical Landing of a Reusable Launch Vehicle
by Jacopo Guadagnini, Gabriele De Zaiacomo and Michèle Lavagna
Aerospace 2024, 11(1), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11010035 - 29 Dec 2023
Viewed by 976
Abstract
This paper focuses on the mission analysis of the return trajectory of a Vertical Landing Reusable Launch Vehicle, both for Return-to-Launch-Site (RTLS) and DownRange Landing (DRL) recovery strategies. The main objective is to assess the mission performance of propellant-optimal re-entry and landing trajectories [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the mission analysis of the return trajectory of a Vertical Landing Reusable Launch Vehicle, both for Return-to-Launch-Site (RTLS) and DownRange Landing (DRL) recovery strategies. The main objective is to assess the mission performance of propellant-optimal re-entry and landing trajectories from the Main Engine Cut-Off (MECO) while considering propellant budget and peak entry conditions constraints. As a result, performance envelopes and feasibility regions are built to comprehensively assess the required propellant and compare recovery strategies across a broad spectrum of MECO conditions. The results show that the DRL strategy achieves higher efficiency concerning the propellant consumption and a larger robustness regarding the dispersed MECO conditions. Full article
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28 pages, 10170 KiB  
Article
3D Soft-Landing Dynamic Theoretical Model of Legged Lander: Modeling and Analysis
by Zhiyi Wang, Chuanzhi Chen, Jinbao Chen and Guang Zheng
Aerospace 2023, 10(9), 811; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace10090811 - 15 Sep 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1194
Abstract
In this paper, a novel 3D (three-dimensional) soft-landing dynamic theoretical model of a legged lander is developed in detail as well as its numerical solution process. The six degrees of freedom motion (6-DOF) of the base model of the lander with mass center [...] Read more.
In this paper, a novel 3D (three-dimensional) soft-landing dynamic theoretical model of a legged lander is developed in detail as well as its numerical solution process. The six degrees of freedom motion (6-DOF) of the base model of the lander with mass center offset setting is considered in the model as well as the spatial motion (3-DOF) of each landing gear. The characteristics of the buffering force, the footpad–ground contact, and the inter-structure friction are also taken into account during the motion of each landing gear. The direct constraint violation correction is used to control the constraint stabilization of the nonlinear dynamic equation. Comparative studies between the results from the proposed model and the simulated model (built in MSC Adams) under four classical load cases show the validity of the model. Additionally, the influences of different types of contact force models, friction force models, and a friction correction model used in the soft-landing dynamic model are further investigated as a step toward understanding the soft-landing dynamic performance and the feasibility of the dynamic model method of a legged lander. The results indicate that a precise lateral force model of the footpad–ground contact is necessary to obtain the soft-landing performance of one lander during soft landing. Full article
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