Mars Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL)

The Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission collects and sends samples of Martian rocks, soil, and atmosphere to Earth for detailed chemical and physical analysis. The Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL) will play an important role in the safe return of Mars rock and atmosphere samples to Earth, delivering crucial spacecraft and hardware to Mars: the rocket that will launch samples from Mars, the two helicopters, and a robotic arm to transfer the samples into the rocket.

SRL Challenge

In the quest to expand our understanding of Mars, NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance, has been diligently collecting rock samples on the Martian surface. These samples, potentially holding secrets to the planet’s history and the broader cosmos, are stored in tubes, some within the rover and others at a designated sample depot.

The MSR mission’s ambition is to retrieve these samples and bring them back to Earth for analysis. The scientific community has identified this mission as the top priority in the “2023–2033 Planetary Science Decadal Survey” by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, underscoring its importance for planetary science. This multi-agency, multi-step operation involves deploying the Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL) – set to be the largest object ever soft-landed on another planet. The mission’s complexity and high costs, coupled with stringent congressional budget oversight, present significant challenges, emphasizing the need for flawless execution and cost-effective strategies at every stage, from sample collection to Earth re-entry.

SRL Solution

Geisel Software contributed significantly to the MSR mission, particularly in the development of test racks for the SRL. These test racks were crucial for emulating the flight conditions under harsh Martian environments and validating the hardware and software designed for the mission. The company’s specific roles included:

  • Design and Development: Creating test racks that accurately simulated the flight conditions of the SRL, ensuring that every possible scenario could be tested and validated.
  • Testing and Refinement: Conducting extensive testing to ensure that both flight hardware and software would function flawlessly in space. This involved continuous iteration and improvement of the test racks.
  • Collaboration: Working closely with other teams responsible for the direct interfacing code with the flight hardware, ensuring seamless integration and functionality of all components.

SRL Results

Geisel Software’s contributions to the Mars Sample Return (MSR) project significantly advanced the mission’s capabilities. Their development of test racks for the Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL) ensured that the mission’s critical hardware and software could withstand the harsh conditions of space and the Martian environment. This led to enhanced reliability and robustness in mission-critical systems. Moreover, their efforts in streamlining the testing process played a crucial role in managing the project’s escalating costs. By setting high standards in testing and development, Geisel Software not only bolstered the chances of a successful MSR mission but also laid the groundwork for future interplanetary exploration, demonstrating the pivotal role of precise engineering and innovation in the realm of space exploration.