“Evolution of integrated safe and accurate landing capabilities” (SPLICE) is the name of a project released by NASA in a statement last Thursday (17), which aims to improve landing safety and prevent accidents.
In order to make a future landing on the Moon and then Mars less risky, NASA built a completely new system, mixing a set of laser sensors, a camera, a high-speed computer and some sophisticated algorithms. And, most importantly, without the need for a human pilot.
According to the project manager, Ron Sostaric: “What we are building is a complete descent and landing system that will work on future Artemis missions to the Moon and can be adapted for Mars. Our job is to put the individual components together and make sure it works as a functional system. ”
How does SPLICE work?
SPLICE aims to ensure that future spacecraft can land in a wide variety of locations, avoiding boulders and craters. The system is able to identify safe target areas that are only half the size of a football field (110m x 49m). To get an idea of the accuracy of these measurements, the Apollo 11 landing area in 1968 was 11×5 … kilometers!
The operation of SPLICE begins with a scan of the surface below the ship with lasers. After capturing the state of the ground, the system makes a comparison with a database of known landmarks, to find out exactly where the ship is.
Processing and identification of the exact location is complete when the spacecraft is about four kilometers above the target surface, providing safe guidance for landing. NASA hopes that SPLICE can already be used by the first woman to land on the Moon in 2024, as part of the Artemis program.