Thermal probe design for Europa sample acquisition

Title Thermal probe design for Europa sample acquisition
Publication Type
Journal Article
Author(s) Mera Horne
Journal/ Publication
Acta Astronautica

The planned lander missions to the surface of Europa will access samples from the subsurface of the ice in a search for signs of life. A small thermal drill (probe) is proposed to meet the sample requirement of the Science Definition Team's (SDT) report for the Europa mission. The probe is 2 cm in diameter and 16 cm in length and is designed to access the subsurface to 10 cm deep and to collect five ice samples of 7 cm3 each, approximately. The energy required to penetrate the top 10 cm of ice in a vacuum is 26 Wh, approximately, and to melt 7 cm3 of ice is 1.2 Wh, approximately. The requirement stated in the SDT report of collecting samples from five different sites can be accommodated with repeated use of the same thermal drill. For smaller sample sizes, a smaller probe of 1.0 cm in diameter with the same length of 16 cm could be utilized that would require approximately 6.4 Wh to penetrate the top 10 cm of ice, and 0.02 Wh to collect 0.1 g of sample. The thermal drill has the advantage of simplicity of design and operations and the ability to penetrate ice over a range of densities and hardness while maintaining sample integrity.

Categories Hot-Point Drills, Thermal Drilling
Citation Mera Horne ( 2018 ) Thermal probe design for Europa sample acquisition. Acta Astronautica , 142 , 29-36 . doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2017.10.015
Lead Author
Mera Horne