Matching Items (2)

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A cubesat centrifuge for long duration milligravity research

Description

We advocate a low-cost strategy for long-duration research into the ‘milligravity’ environment of asteroids, comets and small moons, where surface gravity is a vector field typically less than 1/1000 the

We advocate a low-cost strategy for long-duration research into the ‘milligravity’ environment of asteroids, comets and small moons, where surface gravity is a vector field typically less than 1/1000 the gravity of Earth. Unlike the microgravity environment of space, there is a directionality that gives rise, over time, to strangely familiar geologic textures and landforms. In addition to advancing planetary science, and furthering technologies for hazardous asteroid mitigation and in situ resource utilization, simplified access to long-duration milligravity offers significant potential for advancing human spaceflight, biomedicine and manufacturing. We show that a commodity 3U (10 × 10 × 34 cm[superscript 3]) cubesat containing a laboratory of loose materials can be spun to 1 r.p.m. = 2π/60 s[superscript −1] on its long axis, creating a centrifugal force equivalent to the surface gravity of a kilometer-sized asteroid. We describe the first flight demonstration, where small meteorite fragments will pile up to create a patch of real regolith under realistic asteroid conditions, paving the way for subsequent missions where landing and mobility technology can be flight-proven in the operational environment, in low-Earth orbit. The 3U design can be adapted for use onboard the International Space Station to allow for variable gravity experiments under ambient temperature and pressure for a broader range of experiments.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-06-05

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Inflatable parabolic reflectors for small satellite communication

Description

CubeSats offer a compelling pathway towards lowering the cost of interplanetary exploration missions thanks to their low mass and volume. This has been possible due to miniaturization of electronics

CubeSats offer a compelling pathway towards lowering the cost of interplanetary exploration missions thanks to their low mass and volume. This has been possible due to miniaturization of electronics and sensors and increased efficiency of photovoltaics. Interplanetary communication using radio signals requires large parabolic antennas on the spacecraft and this often exceeds the total volume of CubeSat spacecraft. Mechanical deployable antennas have been proposed that would unfurl to form a large parabolic dish. These antennas much like an umbrella has many mechanical moving parts, are complex and are prone to jamming. An alternative are inflatables, due to their tenfold savings in mass, large surface area and very high packing efficiency of 20:1. The present work describes the process of designing and building inflatable parabolic reflectors for small satellite radio communications in the X band.

Tests show these inflatable reflectors to provide significantly higher gain characteristics as compared to conventional antennas. This would lead to much higher data rates from low earth orbits and would provide enabling communication capabilities for small satellites in deeper space. This technology is critical to lowering costs of small satellites while enhancing their capabilities.

Principle design challenges with inflatable membranes are maintaining accurate desired shape, reliable deployment mechanism and outer space environment protection. The present work tackles each of the mentioned challenges and provides an

understanding towards future work. In the course of our experimentation we have been able to address these challenges using building techniques that evolved out of a matured understanding of the inflation process.

Our design is based on low cost chemical sublimates as inflation substances that use a simple mechanism for inflation. To improve the reliability of the inflated shape, we use UV radiation hardened polymer support structures. The novelty of the design lies in its simplicity, low cost and high reliability. The design and development work provides an understanding towards extending these concepts to much larger deployable structures such as solar sails, inflatable truss structures for orbit servicing and large surface area inflatables for deceleration from hypersonic speeds when re-entering the atmosphere.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015