“Autonomous Thermal Simulator - Ground Support Equipment”
Trans-Tech designed and developed the "Autonomous Thermal Simulator" ATS, a prototype ground support equipment for the MicroMed experiment (*).
Conceived by the INAF-OAC (National Institute of Astrophysics-Capodimonte Astronomical Observatory), MicroMed is a scientific instrument for the Martian environment that will be integrated on the lander of the next EXOMARS 2020 mission of the European and Russian space agencies.
MicroMed's pre-flight development activities require a number of laboratory tests to calibrate the instrumentation and verify its performance under the same operating conditions as expected during operations on Mars.
ATS meets the specific functional and operational tests requirements as required by INAF-OAC:
• Simulated temperature range: min <-30° max> +50°C
• Adjustment step: 0,5°C
• Accuracy: +/- 0,2°C
• Operating pressure: 1 mbar
• Thermalization time <1 min/°C
The system goes beyond conventional solutions (Cold Plate cooled with liquid nitrogen) allowing a more flexible management of the test operations, as well as a better distribution of temperatures with the advantage of an increased safety and simplicity of installation.
ATS is also easily transportable and mechanically reconfigurable for applications with different mechanical interfaces.
(*) MicroMed is a complex experimental apparatus consisting of a main sensor for the analysis of atmospheric dust on the Mars surface. It is also equipped with: a high precision laser; a super-technological aspirator; and a pump with which it samples the atmosphere and dust. The measure of the dimensional distribution of the material present in the samples will allow the study of the dynamics of dust lifting on Mars to verify if, as on Earth, this phenomenon is accompanied by the presence of an atmospheric electric field.
The MicroMed experiment is being developed by the collaboration between INAF, Polytechnic of Milan, INTA of Madrid, IKI of Moscow and the support of the Italian Space Agency, and is financed by the Campania Region.