Atmosphere Processing Module Automation and Catalyst Durability Analysis for Mars ISRU PathfinderThe Mars In-Situ Resource Utilization Pathfinder was designed to create fuel using components found in the planet’s atmosphere and regolith for an ascension vehicle to return a potential sample return or crew return vehicle from Mars. The Atmosphere Processing Module (APM), a subunit of the pathfinder, uses cryocoolers to isolate and collect carbon dioxide from Mars simulant gas. The carbon dioxide is fed with hydrogen into a Sabatier reactor where methane is produced. The APM is currently undergoing the final stages of testing at Kennedy Space Center prior to process integration testing with the other subunits of the pathfinder. The automation software for the APM cryocoolers was tested and found to perform nominally. The catalyst used for the Sabatier reactor was investigated to determine the factors contributing to catalyst failure. The results from the catalyst testing require further analysis, but it appears that the rapid change in temperature during reactor start up or the elevated operating temperature is responsible for the changes observed in the catalyst.
Petersen, Elspeth M. (Iowa State Univ. IA, United States)
May 5, 2016
May 3, 2016
Propellants and FuelsLunar and Planetary Science and Exploration