After what happened to the Curiosity rover, landing on a location different from the intended destination, NASA is embracing technology to make landings to Moon and Mars more accurate. As a matter of fact, the tests are underway through a collaboration between NASA and Blue Origin. As much as the technology is a part of the Artemis program focused on ensuring that landings to the Moon are soft and accurate, it offers much more. That’s because the laser-based technology is also proving to be worth to companies manufacturing self-driving cars. As a matter of fact, the manufacturers are using the technology to help the cars when navigating the annoying rush hour traffic.
Once the crewed missions commence, there will be a need for supply deliveries and the safe landing of people. However, even before that happens, NASA will transfer scientific and life-support equipment to Moon and Mars before the first human lands. SPLICE project, Safe and Precise Landing – Integrated Capabilities Evolution, is in charge of all the technologies that future landers will require. They include computers, algorithms, cameras, and sensors will capabilities of working on Mars and Moon.
A good example is the Lidar detections system. It functions similarly to radar and performs detecting objects, characterizing their shapes, and calculating their distances, movement, and velocity. Using light waves, it can also tell the motion of a spacecraft concerning the ground. It bases that on altitude, roll, pitch, and speed, among others. It achieves all that using the navigation Doppler lidar (NDL). Despite likening it to radar, the NDL is different to some extent. For instance, one of its inventors Farzin Amzajerdian confirms that its laser’s frequency is at least three times that of a typical radar. Consequently, the accuracy of the data is undeniable. Equally important, it means the possibility to use sensors that are both compact and efficient.
One of its contributors is Steve Stanford. He has not only worked in Langley but also NASA. He works at Psionic LLC, which is his company with its headquarters in Hampton, Virginia. His belief in technology was evident. That would explain why his company licensed the NDL from Langley. After years of SPLICE development, the product is proving to be worth it. Its global shutter lidar, a 3D image lidar that NASA has tested, is also quite useful for self-driving cars. That’s because it minimizes the complexity of data that the vehicle needs to calculate and eliminates the likes of velocity calculations. Therefore, it is a technology that will assist self-driving cars greatly. Simultaneously, the upcoming landing on Mars and Moon will also be precise and according to the plan.
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Mars, Moon, Earth, NASA
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