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Autonomous Melting Probe for Icy Planets Exploration

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC20C0178
Agency Tracking Number: 193013
Amount: $746,758.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: S4
Solicitation Number: SBIR_19_P2
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2020
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-07-06
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-07-05
Small Business Information
1046 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17601-5688
United States
DUNS: 126288336
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Calin Tarau
 (717) 205-0659
Business Contact
 Franklin Morales
Phone: (717) 205-0637
Research Institution

To support NASArsquo;s future Europa Subsurface Exploration missions, Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) proposes a thermal probe that can penetrate the thick and cryogenic ice layer on Europa in an efficient and reliable manner. This nuclear-powered thermal probe consists of multiple novel thermal features that are meant to minimize time of penetration and mitigate a series of challenges specific to the mission considered, including:A pumped two-phase (P2P) heat delivery system to acquire heat from the GPHS module to the melting probe frontA front vapor chamber for forward heat focusingA variable conductance wall for passive side melting and probe releasing from refreezing as needed.A liquid displacement system enabling probe lateral movingA front high-pressure liquid water jet cutting system for ice cracking and slush removal from front to rearIn Phase I, a preliminary full-scale ice melting probe with multiple thermal features was designed and analyzed. A proof-of-concept prototype was developed and tested in an ice environment. The functionality of key features was successfully demonstrated. In Phase II, ACT will further mature the proposed thermal technology and develop a full-scale thermal probe for an envisioned Europa mission. ACT will perform detailed trade studies and optimize thermal components, including P2P, vapor chamber, variable conductance wall etc. ACT will also work closely with JPL to integrate their liquid jet ice cutting concept into ACTrsquo;s current design. An initial prototype will be developed by integration of all thermal features. An ice environment system that can replicate Europa ice conditions will be developed for prototype testing. nbsp;A full-scale ice melting probe that considers both thermal and non-thermal subsystems will be designed and its performance under Europa environmental conditions will be analyzed. A reduced scale prototype will be developed and delivered to NASA JPL for further performance validation.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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