CURE logo

Design and Testing of a Sample Container to Preserve Rock Cores for Mars Sample Return
Mentor: Charles Budney (JPL)

A proposed future Mars sample return campaign would return from Mars rock samples that have been generated through drilling, creating rock cores. These rock cores would need to remain clean and intact to ensure high quality science analysis of those samples. The cores will be kept clean by tightly sealing them into metal tubes. Additionally, the current proposed design of the of the Mars sample return campaign includes a high gravity-force (G) landing. Determining the amount of shock the cores can survive would help inform the design of the landing system.

CURE student tasks: The purpose of the first part of the project is to design and test sample tube sealing methods that could act as prototypes for the Mars core tubes, contain samples collected by a drill on the end of a robotic arm, and preserve the samples both on Mars and during the return trip back to Earth. The project will consist of designing seal components and testing hardware using computer-aided design (CAD) software, ordering and assembling parts using various tools, testing the sealing techniques in the lab, and finally reporting on seal performance and recommendations for future development.
The purpose of the second part of the project project is to better understand the effect of the high-G landing on the samples and set limits on landing system design specification. The effect of the high gravity landing on the core samples is not well understood. This project will consist of three parts: 1) selection of a set of test rocks that simulate what we expect to find on the Martian surface, 2) drilling appropriately sized core samples of these rocks, and 3) shock testing these rocks to determine the effect of various impacts on the samples. Details of the project must be well documented because they will be used to write requirements on preserving the core samples.


CURE interns:


Mimi Parker (Summer 2013)