The Soviet Mars 2 and Mars 3 lander missions were the first (human-made) spacecraft to reach the surface of Mars with Mars 3 the first successful landing. They both carried Prop-M's; the first wheel-less rovers.
- Which rover(s) didn't have wheels?
- Is there any chance Mars-3's Prop-M rover deployed automatically and "roved"?
- Since the Prob-M Mars Rovers had a motor for locomotion, why not use wheels?
A comment below Has any spacecraft attempted to land on Mars without an ablative-type heat shield? references the NASA web page Mars 2 Lander 1971-045D which includes the following description:
Spacecraft and Subsystems
The Mars 2 descent module was mounted on the bus/orbiter opposite the propulsion system. It consisted of a spherical 1.2 m diameter landing capsule, a 2.9 m diameter conical aerodynamic braking shield, a parachute system and retro-rockets. The entire descent module had a fueled mass of 1210 kg, the spherical landing capsule accounted for 358 kg of this. An automatic control system consisting of gas micro-engines and pressurized nitrogen containers provided attitude control. Four "gunpowder" engines were mounted to the outer edge of the cone to control pitch and yaw. The main and auxiliary parachutes, the engine to initiate the landing, and the radar altimeter were mounted on the top section of the lander. Foam was used to absorb shock within the descent module. The landing capsule had four triangular petals which would open after landing, righting the spacecraft and exposing the instrumentation.
Question: What exactly were Mars 2's conical aerodynamic braking shield and "gunpowder" engines? I can't understand what these are or how they work, and the potential for the use of gunpowder in an engine is intriguing!