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Planetary Instrument Concepts for the Advancement of Solar System Observations

A Simplified Martian Acoustic Anemometer

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

A Simplified Martian Acoustic Anemometer
We propose to develop a simplified Martian Sonic Anemometer, building on some of the experience found in previous PIDDP efforts toward a Martian Sonic Anemometer. The key difference in this application will be aimed at minimizing the resource requirements to still achieve the unique and important science goals for Mars (and other planetary atmospheres) enabled by a fast-response, high-precision wind sensor such as a sonic anemometer. In particular, we propose to test several candidate transducer technologies that we expect will perform well under Martian conditions, and require significantly less power, mass, and cost to implement for a space flight application. Prior PIDDP efforts have demonstrated that a Martian Sonic Anemometer can be built and can achieve the performance requirements to enable boundary layer eddy sensing and the significant scientific benefits that follow, addressing many key questions identified in the Planetary Decadal Survey. Mars2020 proposal efforts defined the resulting instrument to require ~7W of power and ~1.3kg of mass. It was developed around cumbersome, high voltage transducers and a complicated, computationally intensive signal processing scheme. We aim to reduce these resource requirements by more than half in power (i.e., ~<3W) and somewhat less in mass (~0.75kg) using transducers from a new source, and simplifying the signal processing technique (but retaining adequate performance). We will test several candidate transducer technologies and then mature the most promising of those to optimize its eventual use in space flight at Mars (and other planetary atmospheres). We will develop instrument back-end electronics to prove our simplified signal processing technique. Because of the un-proven state of the new transducers, and the signal processing approach, this instrument is currently at TRL 3. We expect to mature this project up to TRL 5 by the end of the proposed 3 year time span, depending on our success with the transducer maturation. This places this project within the appropriate TRL starting point for PICASSO. Our proposed effort would mature an instrument that could find application on near-term upcoming missions to Mars, as well as potential missions to other planetary bodies with atmospheres (e.g., Venus, Titan, and Earth). Our proposed instrument would enable critical and unique boundary layer measurements to be made at Mars, improving our understanding of surface-atmosphere coupling, and possibly being of use in tracing plumes (e.g., biogenic, water, or other) to their sources. More »

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