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Extreme Environments Technology


Lead Center: JPL Participating Center(s): ARC, GRC, GSFC, LaRC, MSFC OCT Technology Area: TA08 The present state of practice for building space systems for exploring our solar system planets is based on the placing space craft subsystems into environmentally protected housings that are power inefficient and bulky. The goal of the subtopic is to develop technologies that dramatically change this practice resulting in the development of highly power efficient and light weight space subsystems by developing space subsystems that would be capable of operating directly in the extreme environment of the planets of our solar systems. High Temperature, High Pressure, and Chemically Corrosive Environments - NASA is interested in expanding its ability to explore the deep atmosphere and surface of Venus through the use of long-lived (days or weeks) balloons and landers. Survivability in extreme high temperatures and high pressures is also required for deep atmospheric probes to giant planets. Proposals are sought for technologies that enable the in situ exploration of the surface and deep atmosphere of Venus and the deep atmospheres of Jupiter or Saturn for future NASA missions. Venus features a dense, CO2 atmosphere completely covered by sulfuric acid clouds at about 55 km above the surface, a surface temperature of about 486 degrees Centigrade and a surface pressure of about 90 bars. Technologies of interest include high temperature and acid resistant high strength-to-weight textile materials for landing systems (balloons, parachutes, tethers, bridles, airbags), high temperature electronics components, high temperature energy storage systems, light mass refrigeration systems, high-temperature actuators and gear boxes for robotic arms and other mechanisms, high temperature drills, phase change materials for short term thermal maintenance, low conductivity and high-compressive strength insulation materials, high temperature optical window systems (that are transparent in IR, visible and UV wavelengths) and advanced materials with high specific heat capacity and strength for pressure vessel construction, and pressure vessel components compatible with materials such as steal, titanium and beryllium such as low leak rate wide temperature (-50 degrees Centigrade to 500 degrees Centigrade) seals capable of operating between 0 and 90 bars. Low Temperature Environments - Low temperature survivability is required for surface missions to Titan (-180 degrees Centigrade), Europa surface (-220 degrees Centigrade), Ganymede (-200 degrees Centigrade), near earth objects and comets. Also the Earth's Moon equatorial regions experience wide temperature swings from -180 degrees Centigrade to +130 degrees Centigrade during the lunar day/night cycle, and the sustained temperature at the shadowed regions of lunar poles can be as low as -230 degrees Centigrade. Mars diurnal temperature changes from about -120 degrees Centigrade to +20 degrees Centigrade. Also for the baseline concept for Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM), with a mission life of 10 years, the radiation environment is estimated at 2.9 Mega-rad total ionizing dose (TID) behind 100 mil thick aluminum. Proposals are sought for technologies that enable NASA's long duration missions to low temperature and wide temperature environments. Technologies of interests include low-temperature resistant high strength-weight textiles for landing systems (parachutes, air bags), low-power and wide-operating-temperature radiation-tolerant /radiation hardened RF electronics, radiation-tolerant/radiation-hardened low-power/ultra-low-power wide-operating-temperature low-noise mixed-signal electronics for space-borne system such as guidance and navigation avionics and instruments, radiation-tolerant /radiation-hardened power electronics, radiation-tolerant/ radiation-hardened high-speed fiber optic transceivers, radiation-tolerant/ radiation-hardened electronic packaging (including, shielding, passives, connectors, wiring harness and materials used in advanced electronics assembly), low to medium power actuators, gear boxes, lubricants and energy storage sources capable of operating across an ultra-wide temperature range from -230 degrees Centigrade to 200 degrees Centigrade and Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools for modeling and predicting the electrical performance, reliability, and life cycle for low-temperature electronic/ electro-mechanical systems and components. Research should be conducted to demonstrate technical feasibility during Phase I and show a path toward a Phase II hardware/software demonstration, and when possible, deliver a demonstration unit at TRL 5 or higher upon the completion of the Phase II contract.
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