Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 6, 103–124, 2017
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 6, 103–124, 2017
Research article
24 Feb 2017
Research article | 24 Feb 2017

The MetNet vehicle: a lander to deploy environmental stations for local and global investigations of Mars

Ari-Matti Harri1, Konstantin Pichkadze2, Lev Zeleny3, Luis Vazquez5, Walter Schmidt1, Sergey Alexashkin2, Oleg Korablev3, Hector Guerrero4, Jyri Heilimo1, Mikhail Uspensky1, Valery Finchenko2, Vyacheslav Linkin3, Ignacio Arruego4, Maria Genzer1, Alexander Lipatov3, Jouni Polkko1, Mark Paton1, Hannu Savijärvi8, Harri Haukka1, Tero Siili1, Vladimir Khovanskov2, Boris Ostesko2, Andrey Poroshin6, Marina Diaz-Michelena4, Timo Siikonen7, Matti Palin7, Viktor Vorontsov2, Alexander Polyakov2, Francisco Valero5, Osku Kemppinen1, Jussi Leinonen1, and Pilar Romero5 Ari-Matti Harri et al.
  • 1Research Division, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Planetary Systems Department, Lavochkin Association, Moscow, Russia
  • 3Planetary Science Laboratory, Russian Space Research Center (IKI), Moscow, Russia
  • 4Microelectronics Department, Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial (INTA), Madrid, Spain
  • 5Computational Mathematics Dept, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 6Dauria Ltd, Moscow, Russia
  • 7Finflo Ltd, Espoo, Finland
  • 8Dept of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Investigations of global and related local phenomena on Mars such as atmospheric circulation patterns, boundary layer phenomena, water, dust and climatological cycles and investigations of the planetary interior would benefit from simultaneous, distributed in situ measurements. Practically, such an observation network would require low-mass landers, with a high packing density, so a large number of landers could be delivered to Mars with the minimum number of launchers.

The Mars Network Lander (MetNet Lander; MNL), a small semi-hard lander/penetrator design with a payload mass fraction of approximately 17 %, has been developed, tested and prototyped. The MNL features an innovative Entry, Descent and Landing System (EDLS) that is based on inflatable structures. The EDLS is capable of decelerating the lander from interplanetary transfer trajectories down to a surface impact speed of 50–70 m s−1 with a deceleration of < 500 g for < 20 ms. The total mass of the prototype design is ≈ 24 kg, with ≈ 4 kg of mass available for the payload.

The EDLS is designed to orient the penetrator for a vertical impact. As the payload bay will be embedded in the surface materials, the bay's temperature excursions will be much less than if it were fully exposed on the Martian surface, allowing a reduction in the amount of thermal insulation and savings on mass.

The MNL is well suited for delivering meteorological and atmospheric instruments to the Martian surface. The payload concept also enables the use of other environmental instruments. The small size and low mass of a MNL makes it ideally suited for piggy-backing on larger spacecraft. MNLs are designed primarily for use as surface networks but could also be used as pathfinders for high-value landed missions.

Short summary
Investigations of Mars – its atmosphere, surface and interior – require simultaneous, distributed in situ measurements. We have developed an innovative prototype of the Mars Network Lander (MNL), a small lander/penetrator with a 20 % payload mass fraction. MNL features an innovative Entry, Descent and Landing System to increase reliability and reduce the system mass. It is ideally suited for piggy-backing on spacecraft, for network missions and pathfinders for high-value landed missions.