In the space flight world, the weight-to-performance ratio of components and ships is always a key concern. And the Mars Sample Return Mission is a very mass-sensitive mission.
A joint effort between NASA and ESA, the Mars Sample Return mission comprehends a complex relay process that will allow soil and rock samples collected from the Jezero crater delta by the Perseverance Rover to be sent back to our planet.
The MSR mission relay team. Image courtesy of NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech.
It will employ many historical firsts:
The Mars Ascent Vehicle will be the first rocket to ever launch into planetary orbit from the surface of Mars.
The mission’s Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) will be the first interplanetary spacecraft to make a full round-trip to another planet to capture an object in its orbit (the Orbiting Sample Container) and bring it back.
And the craft’s Capture andContainment Lid Mechanism (CCRS), on which NEWTON is assisting, will be the first of its kind in its critical task of catching and containing the sample container, sealing it in a clean vessel, and integrating it into the ERO’s Earth Entry System for return.
NEWTON Lead Mechanical Engineer Alex Miller and the CCRS lid in development.
Alex Miller, lead mechanical engineer at NEWTON, recognizes the many challenges of transferring objects in orbit.
“Once samples float in, the (CCRS) lid needs to close very quickly to keep the samples from bouncing out and limit the contamination. It requires a very lightweight and strong door to be able to do this,” he says in a recent interview with Autodesk. And generative design played a key role in helping the team achieve optimal outcomes with a 30% weight reduction.
Learn more about NEWTON’s design experience on Autodesk’s blog here.
And if you’d like to learn more about NEWTON’s generative design capabilities, or are interested in exploring what we could build together, please contact us.