Mars Science Laboratory Thermal Control Architecture 2005-01-2828
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL1) mission to land a large rover on Mars is being planned for Launch in 2009. As currently conceived, the rover would use a Multi-mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) to generate about 110 W of electrical power for use in the rover and the science payload. Usage of an MMRTG allows for a large amount of nearly constant electrical power to be generated day and night for all seasons (year around) and latitudes. This offers a large advantage over solar arrays. The MMRTG by its nature dissipates about 2000 W of waste heat. The basic architecture of the thermal system utilizes this waste heat on the surface of Mars to maintain the rover's temperatures within their limits under all conditions. In addition, during cruise, this waste heat needs to be dissipated safely to protect sensitive components in the spacecraft and the rover. Mechanically pumped fluid loops2 are used to both harness the MMRTG heat during surface operations as well as reject it to space during cruise. This paper will describe the basic architecture of the thermal control system, the challenges and the methods used to overcome them by the use of an innovative architecture to maximize the use of heritage from past projects while meeting the requirements for the design.