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Design optimization and probabilistic

assessment of a vented airbag
landing system for the ExoMars
space mission
Vassili Toropov
Professor of Aerospace and Structural Engineering
Principal Design Optimization Specialist, Altair Engineering (until 2006)

ExoMars Space Mission





ESA Aurora exploration
programme
240kg mobile robotic exobiology laboratory
To search for extinct or extant
microbial life on Mars
Supporting geology and
meteorology experiments
Launch by Ariane 5 or Soyuz
in 2013
Currently in Phase B – mission
planning and concept design
phase

Airbags for Space Landers

Un-vented type
(inflatable ball)
• Multiple bounces
• Established
heritage (from
Luna-9 in 1966)
• High mass
• Vulnerable to
rupture

Mars Pathfinder NASA/JPL

Luna 9 USSR Space Program

Beagle 2 Beagle2

Airbags for Space Landers

Vented type
• Active control
• Single stroke
• No space heritage
• Low mass
• Vulnerable to
over-turning

Kistler Booster Irvin

ExoMars ESA

Airbag Landing Design Concept



Design concept considers
vented (or “Dead-Beat”)
airbag coming to rest on
second bounce
Inflated with N2 during
descent under main
parachute
Stowed rover mounted to
platform
Vent patches activated by
pyrotechnic cutters
Simple reactive vent control
system: simultaneous allvent trigger at 65g

Airbag Configuration

Six identical vented chambers

One “anti-bottoming” un-vented toroidal

Study Objectives

Develop methodology for optimisation and
probabilistic reliability assessment of vented
airbags
Key questions for ExoMars:
1. What is the mass of an optimized vented
airbag?
2. What is the probability of a successful landing?
3. What is the sensitivity of landing reliability to
changing landing scenarios?

Optimization and reliability
assessment of ExoMars lander
Failure modes:
• Roll-over (payload overturns),
• Dive-through (payload impacts rock)
• Rupture (fabric tears)
Full-scale terrestrial testing is difficult / expensive

Analysis Overview



Explicit FE analysis of
100ms + impact  10 CPU
hours +
Metamodelling approach
Metamodels built by MLSM
Same approach for
optimization and reliability
analyses
Optimization variables
• Airbag size, pressure, vent
areas

Reliability variables
• Wind speed, rock size, pitch
attitude & rate

OPTIMISATION

ROBUSTNESS

Design
Variables

External
Variables

DoE

DoE

FE Analysis

FE Analysis

Surrogate
Response
Surfaces

Surrogate
Response
Surfaces

Optimisation

Monte Carlo
Simulations

Optimum
Design

Reliability

Finite Element Modelling




HyperMesh / LS-DYNA
Rigid rover & platform
Silicone-coated Vectran airbag
fabric
N2 gas
Simulation Stages
1. Inflation
2. Initial Impact (65g vent trigger
filtering)
3. Venting

Vent Triggering



65g acceleration threshold
Measured at payload CoM
Signal noise  premature venting
Crude filter = cumulative time above threshold

0.0303s
65.7g

0.0302s
65.3g

Trigger O ccurs at 0.0304s

0.0304s
65.7g

Software Tools

LS-DYNA

• Dynamic Relaxation (steady-state free fall condition)
• Airbag functionality (Wang Nefske inflation model)
• Advanced contact (internal fabric contact etc.)

HyperMesh

• Advanced LS-DYNA model building support
• Comprehensive interface

HyperView

• Time dependent LS-DYNA animations
• Multi results type environment (animations, X-Y data)

HyperMorph

• Airbag parameterisation
• Rock height, pitch angle variation in reliability assessment

HyperStudy

• Airbag size optimisation
• Reliability assessment

Mars Environment and
Landing Scenarios
Mars Environment
• Gravity 3.7 m/s2 = 0.38g
• Pressure 440Pa = 0.4% of Earth air pressure at sea level
= at 36.5 km altitude on Earth
• Temperature 187K = - 86º C
Landing Scenarios
• Flat Bottom Landing
• Inclined Rock Impact

Landing Scenarios
Landing scenarios are chosen to give conflicting design
requirements

Flat Bottom Landing

Inclined Rock Impact







Vertical velocity 25m/s
Favours ‘tall’ airbag designs
Favours ‘narrow’ airbag designs
Tall, narrow airbag makes most
effective vertical energy absorber

Vertical velocity 25m/s
Lateral wind velocity 16.3m/s
Favours ‘wide’ airbag designs
Wide airbag makes most effective
rock intrusion absorber

Baseline Response: Flat Bottom Landing
• Peak filtered deceleration 66g (Target <70g)
• Peak airbag material stresses 135MPa (Target <533MPa)
• Constraints satisfied by baseline design

Baseline Response: Inclined Rock Impact
• Peak filtered deceleration 980g (Target <70g)
• Peak airbag material stresses 281MPa (Target <533MPa)
• Deceleration constraint exceeded due to ‘Dive Through’

Dive Through
• It is critical to prevent ‘direct’ payload to Rock/Ground
impact
• Such type of impact guarantees violation of deceleration
constraint
Direct payload to
rock impact due to
‘dive through’

ExoMars Lander: LS-DYNA Simulation

Optimization Set-up
Design Objective

- Minimise system mass (Airbag + Payload + Gas +
System)

Design Constraints - Payload acceleration (<70g)
- Airbag von Mises stress (<533MPa)
- Re-bound and roll over inversion kinematics
Design objective and constraints evaluated for each landing scenario

Design Variables

- Airbag base diameter (HyperMorph)
- Airbag height (HyperMorph)
- Airbag venting area
- Airbag steady-state pressure (Mass of gas)

Minimise Design Objective by varying the Design Variables whilst
satisfying the Design Constraints

Design Parameterization
Design Variables : Airbag Height and Diameter
• Airbag geometry defined by dimensional relationships between height (H)
and diameter (D) of cross-section, curves are elliptical sections
• Geometric factors a, b, c are constant

¼ ellipse

¼ ellipse

¼ ellipse

Metamodelling

Need for metamodelling
• One LS DYNA analysis of 0.2s after touchdown takes 10 hours of
computing

Unifying approach
• Both optimization and reliability study utilise metamodels

Accuracy of metamodels
• Optimization and reliability studies based on metamodels
• High quality metamodel is required

DOEs for Metamodel Building
▲ Main

requirements to a Design of Experiments
(DOE) are:
• maximum quantity of information
• achieved with minimum computational effort (number of numerical
experiments)

Optimal Latin Hypercube DOEs

Optimal Latin Hypercube (OLH) DOEs specify the sample
points such that as much of the design space is sampled
as possible, with the minimum number of response
evaluations - especially useful when the evaluations are
expensive.
OLH DOEs are highly structured in a way that:
• They provide an optimal uniform distribution of sample points.
• They spread out the sample points efficiently (space filling) through
out the design space.

LH DOE – conventional
(random) and optimal

Random Latin
hypercube

Optimal Latin hypercube

DOE Optimization: Objective Function
(Audze & Eglais 1977)

Physical analogy: a system consisting of points of unit
mass exert repulsive forces on each other causing the
system to have potential energy. When the points are
released from an initial state, they move. They will reach
equilibrium when the potential energy of the repulsive
forces between the masses is at a minimum. If the
magnitude of the repulsive forces is inversely proportional
to the distance squared between the points then minimize:
P

min U

= min ∑
p =1

Potential energy
(objective function)

P

q = p +1

1
2

L pq

Distance between points p and q

permGA Iteration History for 2
Design Variables & 50 Points

permGA Iteration History for
2 Design Variables & 400 Points

Extended Uniform Latin Hypercube
New points
10

10

9

9

8

8

7

7

6

6

5

5

4

4

3

3

2

2

1

1

10

8

6

4

2

0

0
0

2

4

6

8

Uniform Latin
Hypercube sampling,
21 point

10

Existing Points

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

0
0

2

4

6

8

Extended Uniform Latin Extended Uniform Latin
Hypercube sampling,
Hypercube sampling,
21 point + corners
21 point + 3 existing
points

10

Metamodelling: DoE
Four Design Variables – 40 DOE Points (EULH) per Landing
Scenario (80 in total)

Metamodel building using
Moving Least Squares Method
(MLSM)

Suggested for generation of surfaces given by points

Used in meshless (mesh-free) form of FEM

Useful for metamodel building

Simple

Moving Least Squares Method
Generalization of a weighted least squares method
where weights do not remain constant but are functions
of Euclidian distance rk from a k-th sampling point to a
point x where the surrogate model is evaluated.

DoE point

xj

Evaluation point
rk

xi

x

Moving Least Squares Method
The weight wi , associated with a sampling point xi ,
decays as a point x moves away from xi .
Because the weights wi are functions of x, the
polynomial basis function coefficients are also
dependent on x.
P

[( )

G (a ( x ) ) = ∑ w p ( x ) F x p
p =1

(

~
− F x p ,a

)]

2

min

This means that it is not possible to obtain an analytical
form of the approximation function but its evaluation is
still computationally inexpensive.

Gaussian weight decay function
wi = exp(-θri2)
where θ is “closeness of fit parameter”

θ=1

θ = 10

θ = 100

Example: six-hump camel back function
F(x1,x2) = (4 - 2.1 x12 + x14 / 3) x12+x1x2+(- 4 + 4x22) x22,
-2 ≤ x1 ≤ 2, -1 ≤ x2 ≤ 1.

5.5-6
5-5.5
4.5-5
4-4.5
3.5-4
3-3.5
2.5-3
2-2.5
1.5-2

6

1-1.5

5.5
5

0.5-1
0-0.5

4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
-0.5
-1
-1.5

-0.5-0
-1--0.5
-1.5--1

-2

x2

x1

-1

Example: six-hump camel back function
5.5-6
5-5.5
4.5-5
4-4.5
3.5-4
3-3.5
2.5-3

4-4.5

2-2.5
1.5-2

3-3.5

4

2.5-3

3.5

2-2.5

-0.5-0

3

1.5-2

-1--0.5

2.5

1-1.5

-1.5--1

2

0.5-1

6

1-1.5

5.5
5

0.5-1
0-0.5

4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
-0.5
-1
-1.5

3.5-4
4.5

1.5

-0.5-0
-1--0.5
-1.5--1
x2

-2--1.5

-2

-2

x2

0-0.5

1
0.5
0
-0.5
-1
-1.5
-2

x1

-1

x1

Original function

-1

Approximation on 20 sampling
points, θ = 10

Example: six-hump camel back function
5.5-6
5-5.5
4.5-5
4-4.5
3.5-4
3-3.5

6-6.5

2.5-3

5.5-6

2-2.5
1.5-2
6

1-1.5

5.5
5

0.5-1
0-0.5

4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
-0.5
-1
-1.5

-0.5-0
-1--0.5
-1.5--1

4.5-5
4-4.5
3.5-4
3-3.5
2.5-3
2-2.5
1.5-2
1-1.5
0.5-1
0-0.5
-0.5-0
-1--0.5
x2

-1.5--1

-2

-2

x2

5-5.5

6.5
6
5.5
5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
-0.5
-1
-1.5

x1

x1

Original function

-1

-1

Approximation on 100 sampling
points, θ = 120

Example: Computing and Rendering
Point Set Surfaces by M. Alexa et al. 2001

larger θ

smaller θ

Metamodel Generation
using MLSM

MLSM provides a high quality response surface to accurately
approximate a highly nonlinear system.

Important feature of MLSM is efficient handling of numerical noise by
adjusting “closeness of fit” parameter to provide close fit to a low
noise situation or loose fit when the response exhibits a larger
amount of noise

Direct Payload to Rock/Ground Impact resulting in high payload
accelerations (>100g) occurred at high percentage of DOE points

These high results ‘swamp’ the responses of interest in the
approximation

Suggestion: cap response at 100g

MLSM Illustrative Example:
Rosenbrock’s Banana Valley
Function
45

2

40
35

40-45

30

35-40
30-35

25

25-30

20

20-25
15-20

15
2

10

1

10-15
5-10
0-5

5
0
2

0

0
0

Noise outside area of interest

Function capped

To minimise this function, a good quality approximation of the valley
should be obtained whilst ignoring numerical noise outside the valley

1-2
0-1

MLSM Illustrative Example:
Rosenbrock’s Banana Valley
Function
3

3

2.5

2.5
2.5-3

2

2

2-2.5

1.5-2

1.5-2
1.5

1-1.5

1.5

1-1.5
0.5-1

1

0-0.5

0.5-1
1

2

0-0.5

2

0.5

0.5

0

0
0
0

0

2

2

0

2.5-3
2-2.5

Least Squares approximation of capped function, 100 sampling
points, quadratic polynomial (left) and cubic polynomial (right), still
give poor approximation of function

MLSM Illustrative Example:
Rosenbrock’s Banana Valley
Function
2

2

1

1-2

1

0-1

1-2
0-1

2

0
0

0

0

Capped function

MLSM approximation of capped
function, 100 sampling points gives
good approximation of function

Optimization results
• Optimized Mass was 403.5kg (baseline 392.8kg)
• Flat Bottom Impact Payload Acceleration increased
from 65.5g to 67.7g
• Rock Impact Payload Acceleration decreased from
980.3g to 69.1g
• Maximum Material Stresses were reduced from
281MPa to 157MPa
• While 3 variables are in middle of range, Vent Area
pushes upper limit

Optimization results (cont.)
• On review of the response data set obtained from the test
plan points it was observed that there was a high
percentage of runs that failed to meet the constraints
• This was reflected in the approximations and resulted in a
small ‘sweet spot’ on the response surface where the
constraints could be met
• Model mass varied very little (<0.25%) within this area (all
runs in this area had more mass than baseline run)

Reliability Assessment of
ExoMars Lander
Ultimately, the reliability figure gives the probability of a
successful landing for a given design under a range of
conditions

Alternatively it can be used to establish an envelope of
conditions for a given success probability

For this project, the limited number of variables (4)
considered, results in a reliability index 'figure of merit',
rather than an overall probability of success

Establishing this 'figure of merit', index for the reliability
of a design gives a useful comparison with alternative
designs

Reliability Assessment:
Model Definitions
Adopt airbag design variables determined by optimization study
▲ Consider only rock impact loadcase (though rock height may be zero, i.e.
flat surface)
▲ Failure defined by exceeding similar constraints to optimisation study
• Resultant deceleration < 80g
• Kinematic metrics, re-bound, roll-over
• No bag tearing

Environment Variables
Design
Variable
DV1
DV2
DV3
DV4

Description
Lateral Wind Velocity
Rock Height
Lander Pitch Attitude
Lander Pitch Rate

Lower
Bound
0 m/s
0m
-20 º
-30 º/s

Upper Bound
20 m/s
0.8 m
20 º
30 º/s

Wind Speed Probability
Distribution

700
600
500
400
300
200
100

8.
0

9.
0
10
.0
11
.0
12
.0
13
.0
14
.0
15
.0
16
.0
17
.0
18
.0
19
.0
20
.0
21
.0
22
.0
23
.0
24
.0
25
.0
26
.0
27
.0
28
.0
29
.0

6.
0

0

7.
0

800

4.
0

900

5.
0

Mean Resultant Wind Speed
1000

2.
0

3.
0

0.
0

1.
0

European Mars Climate
Database (EMCD) - general
circulation model
45°N to 45°S latitudes
Season 12
Mars Global Surveyor dust
loading scenario
PDF fit to EMCD model data
Weibull distribution
Mean = 8.0 m/s
SD = 3.7 m/s

Frequency

Wind Speed (m/s)

Rock Height Probability
Distribution






NASA/JPL rock size distribution
model
Viking 1 & 2, MPF landing sites +
Earth analogues
Landing Site rock coverage ≤
20%
Overall rock coverage from
orbital thermal imaging
Rock height = 0.5 x diameter
Exponential PDF
Mean = 0.196 m
SD = 0.196 m

Mars Pathfinder landing site panorama NASA/JPL

Probability Density Function f(H)

7.0
k = 10%

6.0

k = 20%
k = 30%

Probability Density (m^-1)

5.0

4.0

3.0

2.0

1.0

0.0
0.000

0.200

0.400

0.600

0.800

Rock Height H (m)

1.000

1.200

1.400

Pitch Angle and Pitch Rate

Pendulum motion + gust reaction under parachute at landing
Assumed to be random with independent Gaussian Normal PDFs



Pitch Angle
Mean = 0 degs
3σ = 30 degs



Pitch Rate
Mean = 0 deg/s
3σ = 20 deg/s

Reliability Assessment of
ExoMars Lander:
Metamodel generation
• DOE – Uniform Latin HyperCube with Extremities Extension
• Eighty Test Points – 80 LS-DYNA runs executed (single load case)
• Metamodelling using Moving Least Squares Method
• Process is the same as used to generate optimization metamodel, but
with different variables

Counting failures…..

Another
one bites
the dust!

Baseline Reliability Analysis & Results

100, 1000 and 10000 point
Monte Carlo simulations
5 mins cpu on PC for
10000 sample points

Sample Size
100
1000
10000

Success Probability
67.0%
68.3%
68.6%



Low reliability ~ 69%
Inversion failure mode is
primary contributor
Failed Monte Carlo samples +
FE runs indicate trailing edge
contact problem

Sensitivity to Relaxed Landing Conditions




Reduced latitude band 45°N
to 10°S
Morning landing for lighter
winds
Landing sites with ≤ 10% rock
coverage
Pitch angle and pitch rate
variability reduced
(knowledge / ‘chute design)
Cumulative improvement in
reliability to ~ 81%
Pitch Angle and Rate yield
biggest improvement

Parameter
Wind Velocity VH

PDF
β = 7.49 m/s

Rock Height h

Weibull
α=2
Exponential

Pitch Angle θ0

Gaussian

3σ = 20°

Pitch Rate Ω0

Gaussian

3σ = 15°/s

PDF Changed
Baseline
Wind Velocity
Rock height
Pitch Angle & Rate

β = 0.151m

Success Probability
68.6%
70.7%
70.8%
80.8%

Conclusions
General
▲ Successful development of methodology to vented
airbags
▲ Valuable tool for
• Design Optimization
• Probabilistic robustness / reliability analysis
• Can be extended to probabilistic design optimization
▲ Importance of simulation-based methods because of
difficulty / high cost of representative testing on earth

Conclusions
ExoMars application








The optimization study arrived at a design that satisfies the
requirements with only a small increase in mass
Poor reliability estimated: 69 – 81%
Vent areas could be increased
Change in un-vented toroidal
More complex venting control (e.g. differential triggering)
likely
Reliability analysis uncovered failure modes that had not
previously been considered
Consider pitch-up and pitch-down in future optimisation
Increase simulation times to reduce inversion criteria
uncertainties
Reliability analysis process can be employed in future phases
of the ExoMars project, with more comprehensive reliability
analyses aiming at determining the overall airbag reliability

Astrium Mars Lander:
LS-DYNA Simulation

Any questions?