Micro Landers

I have been involved in micro lander work since the early 1990's, when I was involved in developing prototype rocket launched micro landers for a number of University research projects which required small surface stations placed in inhospitable terrain. Using rocket propelled vehicles offered the simplest approach to getting the small surface stations into the locations required. In many regards, they were similar to the concept now developed so effectively as Cansats.

Because of the complexity involved with landing systems, the initial micro landers were built for entry, descent and landing into planetary atmospheres on small parachutes to their landing spots. The thinking was, with a small heatshield for planetary atmospheric entry, and a small enough lander with a large parachute, use of airbags and retro rockets could be avoided.

Later work involved the investigation of using radar altimeters and a crude LIDAR in conjunction with a solid rocket braking motor, operating in a similar manner to a Soyuz Space Capsule's Descent Module, which uses a Parachute and solid rocket motors to cushion the landing.