NASA has invested significant time and money in developing high-temperature technologies for Venus surface exploration. Due to the harsh environment outside an insulated lander body (~462°C, 92 bar pressure, CO2 atmosphere), conventional, high-TRL components and materials will not survive, even for a short duration mission lasting only a few hours.
To meet this need, Ozark IC has worked with NASA’s JFET-R integrated circuit technology (under license since 2016) to provide sensing and actuation solutions that can survive in this harsh environment. Honeybee Robotics (HBR) has built and tested several motor, sensor and gearbox prototypes for a Venus rock sampling drill. The drill includes two BLDC motors to drive the auger and percussion mechanisms and a stepper motor to drive the drill feed stage.
In Phase I of this effort, Ozark IC showed, through a laboratory demonstration, that NASA’s JFET-R technology can continuously run a stepper motor for over 1,000 hours of operation at 470oC. In parallel, Honeybee Robotics demonstrated that its TRL-6 level Venus motors are capable of being used in a stepper configuration to achieve the required auger needs for a Venus drill.
What remains for Phase 2 is to fabricate a combined motor control chipset, assemble modules, and demonstrate the combined motor and electronics operating together at the Venus surface temperature. The motor and drive electronics will then be tested at Venus temperature and characteristic measurements including power and torque will be monitored using HBR’s high temperature motor characterization system. 500 hours of operation is targeted for this effort.
NASA applications include Venus landers and atmospheric probes, health monitoring of jet, rocket and ion engines. For Venus a drill has been proposed for New Frontiers missions for a Venus lander. The proposed chipset and stepper motor can meet the needs of the auger for such a drill as well as provide support for actuation and mobility in future missions.
Energy Exploration – Enhanced geothermal and deep-well ocean drilling and monitoring
Military/Aerospace – health monitoring and control of jet engines and turbines
Automotive – health monitoring and control of internal combustion engines, exhaust systems, and emission controls
Industrial- combustion and emission controls
Science - (Terrestrial) High temperature manufacturing processes