Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Electrical Engineering
Geena Wann-Kung - Kapiolani Community College
Understanding the complex engineering of landing delicate scientific payloads on a Mars’s surface is an essential process to space exploration. A project involving such process is important as it provides the opportunity to work on a real-case scenario that is pertinent to NASA’s goals. The purpose of this project is to simulate a sensor payload that travels through Mars’s atmosphere while sampling data during its flight. Specifically, the objective is to design, test, and implement a payload consisting of a variety of sensors that will be housed within an aircraft. After the aircraft or glider is ejected from a rocket, it must deploy successfully and glide in a circular pattern while performing telemetry of data taken by the sensors until successful landing. The payload includes two subsystems, electrical and mechanical. The electrical subsystem encompasses the monitoring sensors, designed using Printed Circuit Board software technology and includes the electrical layout of components. The telemetry process and the development of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) at the Ground Control Station (GCS) is also part of the electrical subsystem. Several Microcontroller-based sensors are utilized as part of the subsystem: a camera, a Global Positioning System, an airspeed sensor, a barometer (altitude), and a temperature sensor. An Arduino Microcontroller synchronizes the acquisition of all the measured data and their transmission at a frequency of 1 Hz to the GCS with the support of an XBee wireless radio transceiver. All the transmitted data are displayed in real time on a GUI that is developed with Python. The mechanical subsystem of the payload focuses on the design of the payload using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and constructed with a 3D printing technology. It must satisfy a successful deployment of the gliding component when released from the rocket. The payload is expected to glide in a spiral of a radius less than 0.5 kilometers while taking pictures upon request from the GCS. The limitation of such a system is however, the lack of negative feedback onboard of the payload to adjust its path due to environmental factors. Hence, further research and upgrade of the system should include an autonomous steering mechanism for real-time adjustments.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Funding for this program was provide by the National Science Foundation, Tribal Colleges and Universities Program.
Faculty Advisor: Herve Collin, firstname.lastname@example.org