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Technical Paper

Mechanically Pumped Fluid Loop Technologies for Thermal Control of Future Mars Rovers

Future planetary science missions planned for Mars are expected to be more complex and thermally challenging than any of the previous missions. For future rovers, the operational parameters such as landing site latitudes, mission life, distance traversed, and rover thermal energy to be managed will be significantly higher (two to five times) than the previous missions. It is a very challenging problem to provide an effective thermal control for the future rovers using traditional passive thermal control technologies. Recent investigations at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have shown that mechanical pump based fluid loops provide a robust and effective thermal control system needed for these future rovers. Mechanical pump based fluid loop (MPFL) technologies are currently being developed at JPL for use on such rovers. These fluid loops are planned for use during spacecraft cruise from earth to Mars and also on the Martian surface operations.
Technical Paper

Thermal Control of Mars Lander and Rover Batteries and Electronics Using Loop Heat Pipe and Phase Change Material Thermal Storage Technologies

This paper describes a novel thermal control system for future Mars landers and rovers designed to keep battery temperatures within the −10 °C to +25 °C temperature range. To keep the battery temperatures above the lower limit, the system uses: 1) a phase change material (PCM) thermal storage module to store and release heat and 2) a loop heat pipe (LHP) to transfer heat from a set of Radioisotope Heater Units (RHUs) to the battery. To keep the battery temperature below the upper limit, a thermal control valve in the LHP opens to redirect the working fluid to an external radiator where excess heat is dumped to the atmosphere. The PCM thermal storage module was designed and fabricated using dodecane paraffin wax (melting point, − 9.6 °C) as the phase change material. A miniature ammonia loop heat pipe with two condensers and an integrated thermal control valve was designed and fabricated for use with the PCM thermal storage unit.
Technical Paper

Mars Pathfinder Active Heat Rejection System: Successful Flight Demonstration of a Mechanically Pumped Cooling Loop

One of the new technologies successfully demonstrated on the recent Mars Pathfinder mission was the active Heat Rejection System (HRS). This system consisted of a mechanically pumped cooling loop, which actively controlled the temperatures of the various parts of the spacecraft. A single phase Refrigerant 11 liquid was mechanically circulated through the lander and cruise electronics box heat exchangers. This liquid transferred the excess heat to an external radiator on the cruise stage. This is the first time in unmanned spacecraft history that an active heat rejection system of this type has been used on a long duration spacecraft mission. Pathfinder was launched in December 1996 and landed on the Martian surface on July 4, 1997. The system functioned flawlessly during the entire seven months of flight from Earth to Mars. A life test set up of the cooling loop was used to verify the life of the system.
Technical Paper

High Temperature Mechanically Pumped Fluid Loop for Space Applications –Working Fluid Selection

Mechanically pumped single-phase fluid loops are well suited for transporting and rejecting large amounts of waste heat from spacecraft electronics and power supplies. While past implementations of such loops on spacecraft have used moderate operating temperatures (less than 60ºC), higher operating temperatures would allow equivalent heat loads to be rejected by smaller and less massive radiators. A high temperature (100 to 150ºC) mechanically pumped fluid loop is currently being investigated at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for use on future Mars missions. This paper details the trade study used to select the high temperature working fluid for the system and the initial development testing of loop components.
Journal Article

Design Description and Initial Characterization Testing of an Active Heat Rejection Radiator with Digital Turn-Down Capability

NASA's proposed lunar lander, Altair, will be exposed to vastly different external temperatures following launch till its final destination on the moon. In addition, the heat rejection is lowest at the lowest environmental temperatures (0.5 kW @ 4K) and highest at the highest environmental temperature (4.5 kW @ 215K). This places a severe demand on the radiator design to handle these extreme turn-down requirements. A radiator with digital turn-down capability is currently under study at JPL as a robust means to meet the heat rejection demands and provide freeze protection while minimizing mass and power consumption. Turndown is achieved by independent control of flow branches with isolating latch valves and a gear pump to evacuate the isolated branches. A bench-top test was conducted to characterize the digital radiator concept. Testing focused on the demonstration of proper valve sequencing to achieve turn-down and recharge of flow legs.