Carbon fibre heat sinks for two space missions

August 10, 2018 // By Nick Flaherty
A custom phase change heat sink from KULR Technology is to be used in two space missions by NASA.

The Lunar Flashlight CubeSat mission later this year and the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environment with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) equipment on the Mars rover in 2020 will use the KULR Technology heat sinks to keep lasers and sensors at a cool and consistent temperatures to avoid signal distortion. These use a highly conductive vertical carbon fibre architecture with a material similar to wax that can change from solid to liquid while absorbing high amounts of heat energy.

The Lunar Flashlight mission will use a laser to explore water ice hidden in shadows and craters on the moon surface. “The use of these small CubeSats and exceptionally sensitive laser instruments to explore places such as lunar craters is a new and exciting kind of mission,” said Dr Timothy Knowles, chief technology officer of US-based KULR. “And our technology, our heat sink, will keep the laser – the flashlight – from getting too hot and complicating or even corrupting the entire mission,” he said.

“For the Lunar mission, if the Flashlight laser gets above 24 Celsius the data can degrade -- jeopardizing the entire point of the mission,” he said. “So, keeping it below 24 Celsius while the laser is spewing out heat at more than 100 Celsius is the trick. It’s like frying a hamburger and keeping the outside of the pan cool enough to touch – it’s not easy, but, in this case, very important.”

During the 2020 Mars Mission, SHERLOC will be mounted on the rover's robotic arm and use spectrometers, a laser, and a camera to search for organics and minerals that may be signs of past microbial life.

A pair of KULR heat sinks are designed to accept 5.4kJ of heat over an hour operating time while keeping the temperature of the spectrometer detector within design limits and last at least one Mars year, or 687 Earth days.

www.kulrtechnology.com


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