2011

Minimum Landing Error Powered- Descent Guidance for Planetary Missions

An algorithm improves the accuracy with which a lander can be delivered to the surface of Mars. The main idea behind this innovation is the use of a “lossless convexification,” which converts an otherwise non-convex constraint related to thruster throttling to a convex constraint, enabling convex optimization to be used. The convexification leads directly to an algorithm that guarantees finding the global optimum of the original nonconvex optimization problem with a deterministic upper bound on the number of iterations required for convergence.

In this innovation, previous work in powered-descent guidance using convex optimization is extended to handle the case where the lander must get as close as possible to the target given the available fuel, but is not required to arrive exactly at the target. The new algorithm calculates the minimum-fuel trajectory to the target, if one exists, and calculates the trajectory that minimizes the distance to the target if no solution to the target exists. This approach poses the problem as two Second-Order Cone Programs, which can be solved to global optimality with deterministic bounds on the number of iterations required.

This work was done by Lars Blackmore and Behcet Acikmese of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

    • Innovative Technology Assets Management JPL
    • Mail Stop 202-233
    • 4800 Oak Grove Drive
    • Pasadena, CA 91109-809
    • E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NPO-46647

White Papers

The Benefits of Integrated Video Management
Sponsored by Curtiss Wright
White Paper: Computer System Design for Critical Applications
Sponsored by Sealevel
Meeting Industry Standards for Sanitation in The Food Industry
Sponsored by Able Electropolishing
How to Choose the Right Sensor for Your Measurement System
Sponsored by National Instruments
Gearing Up for Parametric Test’s High Voltage Future
Sponsored by Keithley Instruments
Interaction of Intermodulation Products between DUT and Spectrum Analyzer
Sponsored by Rohde and Schwarz A and D

White Papers Sponsored By: