The SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environment with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) system uses custom-designed phase change heat sinks designed to absorb and mitigate rapid temperature changes, keeping sensitive components such as lasers and sensors within desired temperature ranges to avoid signal distortion or other complications.
SHERLOC is mounted on the robotic arm of the Mars rover and use spectrometers, a laser, and a camera to search for organics and minerals that may be signs of past microbial life. The heart sinks 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.
A pair of Kulr heat sinks were designed to accept 5400 Joules of heat for over one-hour operating time while keeping the temperature of the spectrometer detector within design limits.
“Detecting life on Mars has profound implications that can change how humanity perceives its place in the universe,” said Dr. Timothy Knowles, CTO of Kulr Technology who has worked on NASA projects for decades. “Leveraging discoveries from past Mars missions, the 2020 Perseverance incorporates the most advanced engineering design to improve entry, descent, landing, camera, and sensor capability. The same is true for thermal design. Perseverance represents the apex of aerospace engineering and Kulr is happy to be part of its history.”
“The Kulr team has been an essential part of many of our projects in the last two decades,” said Mike Pauken, Spacecraft Thermal Systems Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Lab. “We’re happy to be working with them and incorporating their thermal solutions as part of the SHERLOC Instrument on the upcoming Mars 2020 Rover Mission.”