The Dynamics Simulator for Entry, Descent, and Surface landing (DSENDS) software performs high-fidelity simulation of the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) of a spacecraft into the atmosphere and onto the surface of a planet or a smaller body. DSENDS is an extension of the DShell and DARTS programs (described in prior NASA Tech Briefs articles), which afford capabilities for mathematical modeling of the dynamics of a spacecraft as a whole and of its instruments, actuators, and other subsystems. DSENDS enables the modeling (including real-time simulation) of flight-train elements and all spacecraft responses during various phases of EDL. DSENDS provides high-fidelity models of the aerodynamics of entry bodies and parachutes plus supporting models of atmospheres. Terrain and real-time responses of terrain-imaging radar and lidar instruments can also be modeled. The program includes modules for simulation of guidance, navigation, hypersonic steering, and powered descent. Automated state-machine-driven model switching is used to represent spacecraft separations and reconfigurations. Models for computing landing contact and impact forces are expected to be added. DSENDS can be used as a stand-alone program or incorporated into a larger program that simulates operations in real time.

This program was written by J. Balaram, Abhinandan Jain, Bryan Martin, Christopher Lim, David Henriquez, Elihu McMahon, Garett Sohl, Pranab Banerjee, Robert Steele, and Timothy Bentley of Caltech, and Scott Striepe and Brett Starr of Langley Research Center for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at under the Software category.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (818) 393-2827. Refer to NPO-30486.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Simulating Descent and Landing of a Spacecraft

(reference NPO-30486) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the April, 2005 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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