London software testing news UK

Yes it is rocket science testing

Posted in General by testing in London on May 17, 2008

From Flight Global

Nasa has outlined its testing plan for the entry, descent and landing system that it hopes will get its Phoenix lander safely to the Martian surface on 25 May.

Phoenix will dig for water ice in Mars’ north polar region, study the ice’s history, monitor polar weather and investigate if microbial life could have survived underground. The mission is also part of NASA’s preparations for human exploration.

Its main systems were built for the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, but that mission was cancelled in February 2000 after the Mars Polar Lander crash-landed in 1999. Correcting vulnerabilities identified by the crash investigation was a focus for the Phoenix team.

“We evaluated the [vehicle’s] robustness…most notably the entry, descent and landing [system],” says NASA’s California based-Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Phoenix project manager, Barry Goldstein. According to NASA, less than half of all Mars landers have successfully landed.

The entry, descent and landing testing included more than 60h of flight testing of the craft’s radar, which NASA says is more than all the previous NASA Mars missions combined. Originally an altimeter radar, the system will determine vertical and horizontal velocity and altitude during the descent’s final minutes. The computer will adjust the firing of 12 descent thrusters using the radar’s data.

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