Is there a way to recover any of the energy of reentry of a Mars lander?
- Tremendous energy is generated as a craft enters the atmosphere – admittedly over a fairly short time - and only one time.
- We have seen regenerative braking on various vehicles, starting with diesel-electric locomotives, now electric cars and some F-1 racing cars which are capable of significant energy recover over very short time spans.
The recover could be mechanical, thermal or electrical but would have to be worth lugging along a system.
For example, an ice supply could be heated to water, saving the energy to do it later on the surface.
- Water could be converted to superheated steam for some use, either during reentry or later on the surface). It is conceivable that ice freighters (from an asteroid) might be bringing large cargos to the surface. A water or ice system might help cool the reentry shield.
- An auto rotating propeller might assist in aerodynamic deceleration at a later stage in a reentry, while also storing some energy. Such propellers have been proposed for earth reentry although the thin Martian atmosphere is a problem.