Feeds

European Space Agency demos MARS LANDINGS BY DRONE

Eat your heart out, Amazon

Application security programs and practises

The European Space Agency has used an off-the-shelf quadcopter to demonstrate the latest output of its StarTiger rapid-development program: precision guidance and safe delivery of a rover-like vehicle onto a simulated Mars surface.

Getting to Mars is one thing, but as the ESA knows only too well, executing a successful landing on the surface is quite another.

That's why NASA's Curiosity Rover team was so ecstatic at the successful delivery of the Curiosity Rover in 2012 – and the ESA is taking some lessons from that mission's SkyCrane in its current work.

The “dropship” in the video below is the result of just eight months' work under the auspices of the ESA's StarTiger rapid development program: teams given a fixed development time to come up with a result.

ESA Video

The StarTiger Dropter project's brief was to “produce vision-based navigation and hazard detection and avoidance for the dropship”.

“It has to identify a safe landing site and height before winching down its passenger rover on a set of cables”, the ESA states.

In the video, the device rises to 17m altitude, falls gently back to 10m, and lowers the rover on a 5m bridle to its safe landing. That involves identifying the best spot to release the rover on the 40m x 40m rocky simulated Mars-scape.

The 'copter's approach was handled by GPS and inertial systems. Then the Dropter switched to autonomous “vision based navigation supplemented by a laser range-finder and barometer” to execute the landing manoeuvre. ®

Bootnote: As far as El Reg can figure, the point of the project is the guidance system, not the drone. Surely nobody at the ESA expects to use this sort of propeller in the thin Mars atmosphere, wher esurely they would struggle to generate enough lift to hover with a heavy drone? Aerospace experts are welcome to comment. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.