NASA, the US-based space organisation is seeking bright ideas from college and university students for landing cargo on Mars using hypersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator (HIAD) or inflatable spacecraft heat shields technology.
“NASA is currently developing and flight testing HIADs – a new class of relatively lightweight deployable aeroshells that could safely deliver more than 22 tonnes to the surface of Mars,” said Steve Gaddis, Game Changing Development Programme (GCD) manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Mars Curiosity rover of NASA’s is the heaviest payload ever landed on Mars that weigh in at only one tonne.
Through the development of large aeroshells, NASA is addressing this challenge that can provide enough aerodynamic drag to deliver larger payloads and decelerate.
Technology like HIAD is a leading innovation because aeroshells like these kinds can also generate lift, that would enable the agency to potentially do different kinds of operations.
The agency has asked interested teams of three to five graduate students and/or undergraduate to submit white papers describing their concepts in two months.
This innovation may employ new approaches such as pneumatic actuation and shape morphing to dynamically alter the HIAD inflatable structure.
Teams who get selected will continue in the competition by submitting in the spring on next year full technical papers on the concept.
A $6,000 stipend will be given to each team to assist with full participation in the forum.