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102 votes

Why is an airbag landing on the moon not viable?

During the Pathfinder landing the airbag system hit the ground at about 20m/s. This seems fast but compared to other space speeds, it's very slow. When the pathfinder rover arrived to land at Mars, it ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
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44 votes
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Why is an airbag landing on the moon not viable?

Actually there’s no reason that an airbag system could not be used on the Moon, nor that it could not be a good design decision in some circumstances. The MPF and MER airbags took out the last 10 to ...
Mark Adler's user avatar
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23 votes
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Why do the more recent landers across Mars and Moon not use the cushion approach?

Propulsive landing is now a proven technology and a factor of 1,000 more accurate. According to NASA Facts; Mars Exploration Rover: With the heat-shield portion of the aeroshell pointed forward, the ...
uhoh's user avatar
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23 votes
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How did the spirit rover land right way up after bouncing

Mars Pathfinder, Spirit, and Opportunity all could come to rest on any of four sides of the tetrahedral-shaped lander. Just by chance, Mars Pathfinder and Spirit landed with the base petal down. ...
Mark Adler's user avatar
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23 votes

Why is an airbag landing on the moon not viable?

Early Soviet Lunar probes such as Luna 9 did use airbags. I do not have a reference, but suspect the design process was as per Mark Adler's answer where the state of the art could get a controlled ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
20 votes
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How did the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit & Opportunity) land upright?

It turns out that there was. In this video produced for JPL (which I must have watched a thousand times as an excited kid), it is shown whichever of the three possible "not-bottom" sides/petals of ...
Anton Hengst's user avatar
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16 votes

Why do the more recent landers across Mars and Moon not use the cushion approach?

The 2007 paper The challenges of landing on Mars gives a decent introduction to the subject, and the evolution of Mars landing methods. First generation: Viking. Propulsive landing, lander on legs. ...
Hobbes's user avatar
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10 votes
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What is the "airbag" on the roof of the Mars rover in 'The Martian'?

I don't remember if it was mentioned in the film but the main problem was that all the equipment he needed to bring for life support did not fit into the rover. So he needed more space and had to ...
slebetman's user avatar
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5 votes
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Could a shuttle be built for Mars?

The essential problem is to build something strong enough to withstand the reentry from orbit, with a big enough wing surface compared to its mass to glide while moving slowly enough to land, and with ...
Steve Linton's user avatar
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4 votes

What is the "airbag" on the roof of the Mars rover in 'The Martian'?

The book explains the issue. The cab of the rover was too small for the duration of his trip. He wanted a 'spare room' that he could inflate while waiting for charging to complete. There is a ...
geoffc's user avatar
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3 votes

What is the "airbag" on the roof of the Mars rover in 'The Martian'?

In the book, he tows the second rover (IIRC, the second rover isn't in the film) behind the first. There's not enough space inside the second rover for the Hab life support equipment pieces (can't ...
Will Rhodes's user avatar

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