Sandia Preparatory School
Heat Shield Design of Martian Sample Return Mission
This project will attempt to optimize the design and trajectory of a space probe designed to fly to Mars, collect soil samples and return them to Earth. This project will focus on the design of the probe in order to minimize the weight of the heat shield needed for entry into both atmospheres. It will attempt to find the best material and thickness of the shield, and find the probe's best reentry angle. We will assume that the probe has some kind of parachute for a soft landing on Mars, and a booster system to get it on its way back to Earth. The size of the probe must be within specifications for a rocket launch from Earth, and it must not exceed a specified deceleration during reentry (as specified by the structural design). The probe must also, on reentry, follow certain speed limits outlined by terminal velocity in each atmosphere, and near the end of its landing, the parachute. As for the computer work involved, the computer must use equations for both atmospheres, aerodynamic heat and pressure equations, equations for the trajectory of the probe, and be able to converge the optimal shielding and trajectory that has been calculated. The desired outcome would be to determine the optimum heat shield design and trajectory for the probe's travel.