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Energy-Recovering Landing-Softener

Recover some kinetic energy from craft, then use it for propulsion
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To soften a landing on Mars, one could (in theory) harvest some of the spacecraft's kinetic energy, store it briefly, then use it to power thrusters to slow its descent.

About the only way to do this, is to use wind-turbines to collect the energy for conversion into a form which can provide the needed deceleration. Obviously, the force of air resistance would be too much even with Mar's thin atmosphere, so the craft would need to take its time and skim along through the atmosphere at a dynamically adjusted altitude to maintain an approximately optimal wind resistance.

The energy could be stored as carbon and oxygen, produced from atmospheric CO2, for example.

Alvin, Aug 29 2016


       like a helicopter's auto-rotation mode.
FlyingToaster, Aug 29 2016

A helicopter uses autorotation to slow its descent, but does not collect any of the energy for later use as a craft using this landing-softener concept would. The kinetic energy of a descending craft is typically converted to heat and lost. This idea is about making use of that energy that's normally wasted. If the energy conversions were efficient enough (which they most certainly wouldn't be), a craft could even produce enough fuel during its landing to power a launch from Mars back into space.
Alvin, Aug 30 2016

       How about using a ram pump during re-entry to fill a compressed air container?
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 02 2016

       Fill a light gas balloon that is lighter than Mars' atmosphere?   

       Use piezoelectricity and long streamers?
RayfordSteele, Sep 02 2016

       Fill a balloon with atmosphere, and have it end up lighter than the atmosphere?   

       That's not actually that crazy. Hot air balloons do that. The compression of the air going into the balloon might heat it sufficiently, or you could use the heat of compression produced in front of your entry vehicle perhaps.
notexactly, Sep 07 2016


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