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Instrumented Moles for Planetary Subsurface Regolith Studies

Richter, L.O. and Coste, P.A. and Grzesik, A. and Knollenberg, J. and Magnani, P. and Nadalini, R. and Re, E. and Romstedt, J. and Sohl, F. and Spohn, T. (2006) Instrumented Moles for Planetary Subsurface Regolith Studies. In: Eos Trans. AGU Fall Meeting suppl., 87 (52), P54A-05. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2006, 2006-12-11 - 2006-12-15, San Francisco (USA).

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Abstract

Soil-like materials, or regolith, on solar system objects provide a record of physical and/or chemical weathering processes on the object in question and as such possess significant scientific relevance for study by landed planetary missions. In the case of Mars, a complex interplay has been at work between impact gardening, aeolian as well as possibly fluvial processes. This resulted in regolith that is texturally as well as compositionally layered as hinted at by results from the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions which are capable of accessing shallow subsurface soils by wheel trenching. Significant subsurface soil access on Mars, i.e. to depths of a meter or more, remains to be accomplished on future missions. This has been one of the objectives of the unsuccessful Beagle 2 landed element of the ESA Mars Express mission having been equipped with the Planetary Underground Tool (PLUTO) subsurface soil sampling Mole system capable of self-penetration into regolith due to an internal electro-mechanical hammering mechanism. This lightweight device of less than 900 g mass was designed to repeatedly obtain and deliver to the lander regolith samples from depths down to 2 m which would have been analysed for organic matter and, specifically, organic carbon from potential extinct microbial activity. With funding from the ESA technology programme, an evolved Mole system - the Instrumented Mole System (IMS) - has now been developed to a readiness level of TRL 6. The IMS is to serve as a carrier for in situ instruments for measurements in planetary subsurface soils. This could complement or even eliminate the need to recover samples to the surface. The Engineering Model hardware having been developed within this effort is designed for accommodating a geophysical instrument package (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, HP3) that would be capable of measuring regolith physical properties and planetary heat flow. The chosen design encompasses a two-body Mole consisting of a 'tractor' element containing the hammering mechanism jointed to a trailed compartment housing the instruments as well as some front-end electronics, tethered to surface controls and instruments. This presentation will highlight the design of the IMS and will describe results of comprehensive functional and environmental tests that included soil penetration to depths beyond 2 m, thermal vacuum functional tests, as well as vibration testing of the stowed system. Mission scenarios that are being considered for the IMS are discussed (including the ExoMars mission of ESA), and an update is given on parallel tests of the HP3 instrument package that is being developed in a dedicated, ESA-funded effort.

Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Title:Instrumented Moles for Planetary Subsurface Regolith Studies
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Richter, L.O.UNSPECIFIED
Coste, P.A.ESA-ESTEC, 1 Keplerlaan, Noordwijk, 2200 AG Netherlands
Grzesik, A.UNSPECIFIED
Knollenberg, J.UNSPECIFIED
Magnani, P.Galileo Avionica, Via Montefeltro 8, Milan, 20156 Italy
Nadalini, R.UNSPECIFIED
Re, E.Galileo Avionica, Via Montefeltro 8, Milan, 20156 Italy
Romstedt, J.ESA-ESTEC, 1 Keplerlaan, Noordwijk, 2200 AG Netherlands
Sohl, F.UNSPECIFIED
Spohn, T.UNSPECIFIED
Date:December 2006
Journal or Publication Title:Eos Trans. AGU Fall Meeting suppl.
Refereed publication:No
In SCOPUS:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Volume:87
Page Range:P54A-05
Series Name:Eos Transactions AGU
Status:Published
Keywords:Instruments, techniques
Event Title:American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2006
Event Location:San Francisco (USA)
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:2006-12-11 - 2006-12-15
Organizer:AGU
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport (old)
HGF - Program:Space (old)
HGF - Program Themes:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research area:Space
DLR - Program:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):W - Vorhaben Vergleichende Planetologie (old)
Location: Köln-Porz , Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Materials Physics in Space > Institute of Space Simulation
Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Physics
Deposited By: Stefanie Musiol
Deposited On:26 Feb 2007
Last Modified:27 Apr 2009 13:25

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