in Space

Latest impact trial gives 'Space Penetrator' concept new boost

Posted 24 November 2016 · Add Comment

A trial conducted by space, weapons and maritime experts at QinetiQ has shown that a specially shielded communications system could survive a deliberate impact with Jupiter's moon Europa.

Part of this trial and others carried out on the Long Test Track have used accelerometers and data loggers to examine the performance of the protective casing, but recent tests have proven the survivability of real components manufactured by QinetiQ, such as batteries and transceivers.

The former trials involved colliding the penetrator with an ice block at 340 metres per second using the Long Test Track at MOD Pendine, managed by QinetiQ on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).  You can watch part of this trial, and others carried out on the Long Test Track, in this video.

The test, conducted by QinetiQ in partnership with Airbus and the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), is the latest in an ongoing programme supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) to demonstrate the concept of a ‘hard landing’ on the surface of a moon or planet. A hard lander, instead of attempting a gentle touchdown, impacts at speeds of up to 300 metres per second, penetrating the surface to collect data from several metres below.

Above: The new trial.

The test, conducted by QinetiQ in partnership with Airbus and the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), is the latest in an ongoing programme supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) to demonstrate the concept of a ‘hard landing’ on the surface of a moon or planet. A hard lander, instead of attempting a gentle touchdown, impacts at speeds of up to 300 metres per second, penetrating the surface to collect data from several metres below.

The trial, conducted at Cambridge University, consisted of a small-scale reverse ballistic test, in which a target representing an ice block was accelerated towards QinetiQ’s bullet-shaped ‘penetrator’ using a single stage gas gun. QinetiQ’s communications equipment, concealed within the penetrator, remained fully operational after the test, despite having been subjected to peak loads of up to 35,000 times the force of gravity.

Phillip Church, Principal Engineer, QinetiQ, said: “The Space Penetrator is a landmark British innovation, marking a big change in the way we think about placing spacecraft on other worlds. Soft landings are notoriously difficult to achieve and require large masses to be put into space, making them expensive endeavours. A hard lander enables lighter and more compact designs, and can collect data from underground in previously inaccessible areas.

“The challenge for hard landers is one of survivability; we need to show that vital components can operate effectively after the violent impact. QinetiQ is uniquely qualified to address this challenge, bringing together expertise in specialisms as diverse as ballistics testing, impact simulation, batteries, and space communications systems to prove the concept. QinetiQ is now involved in several opportunities featuring penetrator designs and is developing its reputation as the ‘go-to’ provider for impact and simulation expertise.”

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Rubb defence structure installed at Clive Barracks

An insulated building featuring Rubb's Thermohall technology has been installed at Clive Barracks at Tern Hill in the UK.

BAE Systems helps preserve HMS Victory for the future

Specialist engineers from BAE Systems are working with the National Museum of the Royal Navy on a unique project to help preserve HMS Victory, the world's oldest commissioned warship, for future generations.

Gentrack's CA+ extends airport property space management capability

Gentrack's Concessionaire Analyzer+ (CA+) solution for airport non-aeronautical revenue management, has had its property management functionality extended to include Space Management.

TEK and SKYDEX introducing blast matting solution at DSEI

Designer and manufacturer of ProTEK vehicle seating, Tek Military Seating and SKYDEX Technologies, Inc., provider of engineered impact and cushioning solutions, have partnered to develop a new blast floor matting system that will be

Loganair agrees distribution deal with Travelport

Loganair, has secured relationships with three GDS booking platforms after it agrees a multi-year global content distribution deal with Travelport using the code LM.

Belfast International Airport contracts NATS for ATC

NATS has signed a nine-year contract with Belfast International Airport for the provision of air traffic control and engineering services.

Aviation Africa SK18418
See us at
SMIUAV BT1005280917SMI12DE BT203280917SMI FAV BT1007161117SMI MilSat BT2907101117SMI AirMissBT0305251017DSEI LB0911150917Aviation Africa BT18418Advanced Engineering BT1007021117