The Mars Science Laboratory Touchdown Test Facility

In the Touchdown Test Program for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, a facility was developed to use a full-scale rover vehicle and an overhead winch system to replicate the Skycrane landing event. A driving requirement for the testing facility was the need to support a load of 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) at a minimum height of 13 m. Few facilities at JPL qualify with enough height, leaving the Building 280 Static Test Tower as the logical choice. However, this facility is popular, so an additional requirement was that the MSL test facility be temporary, and be able to be disassembled in a matter of a week or two, be stored for a period of time, and then be reassembled again quickly for V&V (verification and validation) testing.

The Building 280 Test Tower is a 50-ft-tall (15-m) steel tower structure measuring approximately 15 by 15 ft (4 by 4 m). Overhead pulleys were mounted on a new cantilevered frame so that testing could be conducted on the south face of the tower. Landing surfaces consisted of flat and sloped granular media, and rigid, planar surfaces. Various combinations of rocks and slopes were studied. Information gathered in these tests was vital for validating the rover analytical model, validating design and system behavior assumptions, and for exploring events and phenomena that are either very difficult or too costly to model in a credible way.

This work was done by Christopher White; John Frankovich; Phillip Yates; George H. Wells, Jr.; and Robert Losey of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-45847

White Papers

The Benefits of Investigating Surface Treatments Earlier In the Design Process
Sponsored by General Magnaplate
Comparison of Interface Pressure Measurement Options
Sponsored by Tekscan
Silicones Meet the Needs of the Electronics Industry
Sponsored by Master Bond
Technology To Speed Wire Harness New Product Introduction
Sponsored by Mentor Graphics
When Wire Feedthroughs Make Sense
Sponsored by Douglas Electrical Components
Multi-channel, Multi-board Coherency for SWaP-Constrained SIGINT and EW
Sponsored by Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing

White Papers Sponsored By:

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.