Dropter - delivery and landing of rovers
Dropter is a project of the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of the StarTiger program. Its goal is the smooth descent of mobile moving vehicles to safe areas of the rocky surface of Mars.
StarTiger is an ESA program, when a highly qualified team of experts from various fields gathers in one well-equipped research center, they are set a difficult technical task and given a time limit to solve it. The last StarTiger team was stationed at the Airbus Defense & Space Research Center in Bremen, Germany, which included engineers from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, the Portuguese aviation company Spin.Works, and the Poznan Polytechnic Institute. Having allocated the project a period of 8 months, the scientists were tasked with creating a visual navigation for the dropping drone and the ability to detect and avoid interference. The drone should find the most suitable place for landing, determine the height and lower the rover on the cables.
At the moment, Dropter’s maximum flight height of 17 meters, approaching the surface by 10 meters, the drone begins to release a rover on a 5-meter cable, continuing to decline until the landing vehicle landed. Flight tests took place at the Airbus site in northern Germany, which back in the 1940s was the scene of rocket experiments by Eugen Senger, the head of the Silberfogel project . A 40 by 40 meter platform was created, reminiscent of the rocky surface of Mars, where the rover was to be lowered into the safe zone. For preliminary tests, the device was assembled from components of a commercial drone. Using GPS and inertial systems, the drone gets to the intended point, then goes into visual navigation mode, based on a laser rangefinder and a barometer, and lands the rover.
History of touchdowns and crashes on Mars: