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ArgosyProject:Terminal Braking

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As the sun rises over the rugged lowlands of Mars, fog forms in the valleys and craters. Phobos hurtles through the dawn sky, accompanyed this day by a manned craft, slowing like a meteor in the high, thin Martian air.
This is an older piece, but I still like it a lot, particularly the plasma stream. The model is a slightly modified version of my Mars-to-orbit Ferry.
Thanks to [link] for the Phobos model, and NASA for the MOLA terrain data I used to model the Mars surface.

Modeled and rendered in Lightwave8.5, texturing and post work in PhotoshopCS.

Thanks for taking a look.
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© 2011 - 2021 Thomas-Peters
Comments20
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Javajunkie1976's avatar
I'm always amazed at your work. I'm still futzing around using Microsoft Paint. I've created a few good works but never on the level of this. You should get a job with NASA as an illustrator for future missions. I look forward to what else you have in the works. Have you ever considered doing a series showing the first missions to the moon?
Eagle1Division's avatar
I've recently got a renewed interest in how this would work. Like the shuttle, wouldn't it need lift to give it plenty of time to slow down before hitting the ground (by reducing vertical speed)? I guess a lifting body might do?

I've got a concept for re-usable martian shuttling, but how would that work? Can parachutes be kept attached, even with rockets for terminal braking? Or would it need a powered descent after atmospheric braking down to a few thousand or hundred ft/s?

Sorry about all the questions. :P
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Well, its all about entry angle. The shallower the angle at which you hit the atmosphere, the more "thickness" you have. Also, at high speeds and shallow angles, this shape serves as a pretty good lifting body, allowing some fine tuning of the touch-down point. Wings are pretty much useless for slow-speed maneuvering on Mars, unless they are REALLY long, which would tend to cause problems at orbital entry speeds.

I'm assuming parachutes to stabilize and slow the craft, with final rocket braking. New chutes would be something that would have to be supplied by Earth, until the spidersilk factories on Phobos were up and running...:D
Eagle1Division's avatar
Hah. Wow. Most not take a very large lift coefficient to do it, then. Either that or I really underestimate how much lift can be had in the upper atmosphere at ~3.5 km/s without melting the heatshield...

Speaking of which, I've always wondered why the Shuttle doesn't come in at a shallower angle so it's not taken so near limits, where things like the Columbia tragedy can happen. I mean, theoretically, an entry could be done without any plasma forming at all, if done shallow enough, right? Or would that entry angle be too unpredictable or something?...

Spider Silk. lol. Nice. I think this might be a perfect example of where weight savings add to the cost instead of taking away :XD:

Well, maybe for a VASIMR-based mission. But then again, every gram is a lot of cost if it's all combustion rockets :O
kilo-charlie's avatar
Outstanding scene and modeling.
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Huh. Looks like the European Space Agency is actually going to test this entry-body shape for REALS!!
[link]

:D
Maphisto86's avatar
Art imitating reality indeed! :D :thumbsup:
IsthmusLine's avatar
Looks great! I haven't seen anything like it before
Bartlebooth's avatar
A very peculiar starship shape and realistic effects here. A remarkable picture!
Thomas-Peters's avatar
The shape is called a biconic entry vehicle. It provides a great deal of fine control, while distributing the frictional heating of atmospheric entry over a large area of hull (minimizing the intensity of temperature that any one area needs to take) It is a variation on the lifting body design.
Bartlebooth's avatar
Must be huge, then..
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Its about70 feet long by 22 feet in diameter. It accommodates a crew of four. Remember, its only for descending to the Martian surface, then returning to Mars orbit, where it rendezvous with the main mission spacecraft. It uses a combination of parachutes and braking rockets to land tail-down, on 3 landing legs (which are tucked up in the lander until it slows enough.)
Bartlebooth's avatar
Thanks for your explanation, I hope mankind will visit Mars soon!
RobCaswell's avatar
HA! I remember this one!! Nice to see it again. In some ways it doesn't seem very long ago at all, but I can see where you're refined many techniques since this image.
Ptrope's avatar
Beautiful! I need to really go back to explore rendering in LW and not just modeling :D.
AbaKon's avatar
Another masterpiece to add to my desktops folder!
rnx83's avatar
Breath taking.
QAuZ's avatar
Waaah :wow: I love the close planet.
NICELabs's avatar
Fantastic! A great vision of the future.. hopefully one not too far off :)
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