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Title: 2011 Mars Science Laboratory launch period design
Authors: Abilleira, Fernando
Keywords: Mars Science Laboratory
Mars missions
mission design
trajectory design
Issue Date: 31-Jul-2011
Publisher: Pasadena, CA : Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2011.
Citation: 2011 AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, Girdwood, Alaska, July 31, 2011.
Abstract: The Mars Science Laboratory mission, set to launch in the fall of 2011, has the primary objective of landing the most advanced rover to date to the surface of Mars to assess whether Mars ever was, or still is today, able to sustain carbonbased life. Arriving at Mars in August 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory will also demonstrate the ability to deliver large payloads to the surface of Mars, land more accurately (than previous missions) in a 20-km by 25-km ellipse, and traverse up to 20 km. Following guided entry and parachute deployment, the spacecraft will descend on a parachute and a Powered Descent Vehicle to safely land the rover on the surface of Mars. The launch/arrival strategy is driven by several key requirements, which include: launch vehicle capability, atmosphere-relative entry speed, communications coverage during Entry, Descent and Landing, latitude accessibility, and dust storm season avoidance. Notable among these requirements is maintaining a telecommunications link from atmospheric entry to landing plus one minute, via a Direct-To-Earth X-band link and via orbital assets using an UHF link, to ensure that any failure during Entry, Descent and Landing can be reconstructed in case of a mission anomaly. Due to concerns related to the lifetime of the relay orbiters, two additional launch/arrival strategies have been developed to improve Entry, Descent, and Landing communications. This paper discusses the final launch/arrival strategy selected prior to the launch period down-selection that is scheduled to occur in August 2011. It is also important to note that this paper is an update to Ref. 1 in that it includes two new Type 1 launch periods and drops the Type 2 launch period that is no longer considered.
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