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Comet Nucleus Source Sampler

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2001 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Honeybee Robotics, Ltd.
PO Box 27420 Brooklyn, NY 11202-7420
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2001
Title: Comet Nucleus Source Sampler
Agency: NASA
Contract: N/A
Award Amount: $599,286.00


A new type of planetary body sample acquisition tool called a Comet Nucleus Surface Sampler is proposed for development. The initial proposed use of this innovation is for comet surface sampling but the system can be applied to asteroids and Mars too. This invention allows for direct sampling of a comet nucleus surface employing a touch and go spacecraft. By avoiding a landing, the in situ study of comets is greatly simplified. It is only necessary for the sampling craft to make momentary contact with the surface via the sampler. Cutting heads located on a flexible boom 1.5 meters below the lander, counter rotate at high speed. When these heads contact the surface, small fragments are thrown up to the lander and into the apertures of instrumentation such as those under development at NASA Ames, GSFC and LaRC. The goals of the effort are to design a first iteration of the proposed sampler in an actual comet sampling situation, to fabricate a breadboard of the cutting head assembly and test this assembly at different attack angles in comet simulants cooled to cryogenic temperatures. Honeybee Robotics expects the research will enable low cost Discovery or Micromission class surface sampling missions.

Principal Investigator:

Shaheed Rafeek
Engineering Group Leader

Business Contact:

Chris Chapman
Small Business Information at Submission:

Honeybee Robotics, Ltd.
204 Elizabeth Street New York, NY 10012

Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No