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Center Innovation Fund: GRC CIF

Minimally Intrusive Embedded Sensors for High Mass to Mars Thermal Protection Systems

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Minimally Intrusive Embedded Sensors for High Mass to Mars Thermal Protection Systems
The safety and overall mission success of space vehicles rely heavily on the integrity of the TPS to protect valuable payload during atmospheric entry. Future missions would comprise of humans, life supporting infrastructures, and robotic builders. Therefore, it is imperative to sufficiently and efficiently monitor the health of the TPS by way of large area coverage of the surface with miniature, low weight, and minimally intrusive instrumentation. Previous studies estimated that the payload could be as large as 80 mt while the entry mass could be three times higher. This implies that the recession rate of the TPS material must be adequately quantified at a higher fidelity beyond the current state of the art (SoA) Mars Science Laboratory Entry Descent and Landing Instrumentation (MEDLI-2) planned for use in the Mars2020 TPS. A significant mass reduction of the entry vehicle is anticipated, thereby reducing $/lb launch cost and retaining of payload weight. This is with the goal of achieving the prescribed 50% mass reduction. The goal is to provide high fidelity real-time monitoring of vehicle health during atmospheric entry. More »

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