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SBIR/STTR

Lightweight Low Force Rotary Percussive Coring Tool for Planetary Applications, Phase II

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Lightweight Low Force Rotary Percussive Coring Tool for Planetary Applications, Phase II
Alliance Spacesystems, LLC produced a rotary percussive drill designed for space use under a NASA-funded Mars Instrument Development Program (MIDP) project -- the Low-force Sample Acquisition System (LSAS). The flight-like drill prototype that was the end result of the project successfully drilled and acquired 1 cm³ samples from a variety of rocks and soils including the hardest anticipated Martian rock (basalt) and frozen soil. This ability was demonstrated not only in ambient conditions but also in a thermal/vacuum chamber replicating Mars pressure and extreme temperatures. The rotary percussive approach is simple, robust, and highly efficient with regards to power and mass. During the SBIR 2006 Phase I effort, Alliance took this heritage device and expanded its potential to include coring against a variety of rock materials anticipated to be encountered on Mars. Through the use of a breadboard fixture, coring bit designs and coring parameters were evaluated to identify optimum combinations. At the completion of test a conceptual design was generated taking this coring experience into account and adding core retention, break and ejection features. A bit change mechanism, identified as a requirement for successful operation while maintaining design robustness and simplicity, was added as well. A Phase II effort is now proposed that will take this conceptual design into prototype form. Primary activities to be performed during Phase II will include: • Additional coring test runs to work out final details of detail bit design • Detail design and prototyping of core handling mechanisms • Prototype testing of core handling mechanisms • Design and manufacture of full prototype LSAS Corer system • Testing of prototype LSAS corer • Integration of LSAS corer onto robotic platform and functional demonstration More »

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