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Thermal Analysis of Landers using Radioisotope Power Systems on Ice Worlds

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dc.contributor.author Bairstow, Brian K
dc.contributor.author Lee, Young H.
dc.contributor.author Howell, Sam
dc.contributor.author Donitz, Benjamin
dc.contributor.author Choukroun, Mathieu
dc.contributor.author Perl, Scott
dc.date.accessioned 2022-02-28T16:44:22Z
dc.date.available 2022-02-28T16:44:22Z
dc.date.issued 2021-03-06
dc.identifier.citation 2021 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, March 6-13, 2021
dc.identifier.clearanceno CL#21-0115
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2014/54242
dc.description.abstract The surfaces of Ice Worlds record evidence of interior processes, chemical potential, habitability, and potentially life within the interior. Volatile and organic chemistry at the surface is critical in determining habitability and detecting the presence of past or extant life. Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) could be an enabling technology for in situ missions to ice worlds, providing both power and heat for long durations where solar power would not be feasible. However, it is necessary to understand the potential impact of RPS upon the local environment, to ensure that the rejected heat from RPS does not compromise science measurements or planetary protection requirements. To address these concerns, an RPS Ice World Lander Study was carried out in 2019 to investigate possible requirements on RPS surface mission concepts and approaches to excess heat management. The study focused on two destinations that are representative of the range of potential environments: Europa and Enceladus.Initial analysis showed that, due to the very low pressures on the surfaces of most ice world targets, surface melting does not occur because the water ice does not meet the triple-point. A 4 kW heat source suspended above the surface of Europa or Enceladus would not cause any melting, only sublimation.The study used a surface sublimation limit of 10 cm over a two-year period (the baseline for the recent Europa Lander study). To stay within this limit, Europa, with its relatively warm surface, could tolerate only 10 W/m2 of surface heat flux. Enceladus, with its relatively cold pure ice composition, could tolerate up to 100 W/m2.Various lander and heat shield configurations were analyzed for their heat flux radiated from the RPS to the surface. For a given heat shield configuration, the study team determined the minimum height of the RPS above the surface for which the heat flux would be within the accepted parameters for Europa and for Enceladus. Based on these thermal analyses, such RPS-powered landers could remain compliant with science investigation and planetary protection requirements with only modest mass allocated to spacecraft thermal accommodations.
dc.description.sponsorship NASA/JPL en_US
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher Pasadena, CA: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2021
dc.title Thermal Analysis of Landers using Radioisotope Power Systems on Ice Worlds
dc.type Preprint


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