NASA’s technological advancement leads to remote precision landing

Space exploration has had its fair share of achievements that include moon landings, technical spacecraft innovation, and increased scientific knowledge of the solar system. Additionally, space exploration has improved life on earth like improved communication using cell phones, innovative surgical procedures, and new job creation in the technology industry. Consequently, the scientist can monitor the weather pattern and minimize climate change by vacating potentially flood-prone areas and warning of impending storms or tornadoes. 

Despite technological advancement, some solar system areas are too harsh to send a crewed spacecraft to analyze and collect samples. Thus, NASA designed the Safe and Precise Landing- Integrated Capabilities Evolution (SPLICE) to monitor sheer slopes and boulder sections that can help in the safe landing of a spacecraft. The SPLICE comprises a camera, laser, high tech computer, and complicated algorithm to relay information to the spacecraft about impending planetary dangers, display safe landing sites, and course adjustment in case of potential risk.

On the other hand, hitting creators, landing in depressions, and landing in a small area presented a significant challenge in space explorations. The SPLICE comprises four primary systems: the navigation system, the computerized landing system, the Doppler lidar, and the hazard detection lidar. Conversely, NASA plans to test three components: the navigation system, Doppler lidar, and the computerized system in the next mission. The three segments will be embedded in a rocket launcher, and as the rocket drops back to earth, after reaching the lunar atmosphere after the testing, they will all be on board.

The fourth segment of the SPLICE subsystem-hazard detection- will undergo testing later in upcoming years. Ideally, after detecting a landing site, the technicians analyze to ensure that the region is within the landing ellipse- a sizable area for a spacecraft to land- hence an analysis of the topography. For example, when Apollo 11 was set on course, the landing ellipse covered an area of about 11 by 3 miles. Apollo 11 was operated by a pilot who directed its safe landing. However, the following robotic operations to Mars were built for autonomous landings in contrast to Apollo 11.

Also, Viking, a probe sent to Mars that will arrive ten years later since its launch, will occupy a landing ellipse of 174 by 62 miles. The landing ellipse has reduced due to innovation, and the Curiosity rover settled approximately 12 by 4 miles.