Vapor-Venting Thermal Management System for Sample Return Missions



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51st International Conference on Environmental Systems


Sample return missions represent some of the most challenging but scientifically promising missions under consideration. Returning samples to Earth allows for in-depth scientific studies that are not possible in-situ. The scientific community is interested in studying samples from a variety of bodies including, Mars, the Lunar surface and comets. In order to maximize the scientific value of any returned sample, it is critical that the sample not be mechanically or thermally altered. For samples originating from extreme cold environments, such as comets and permanently shadowed regions on the Lunar surface, this may require maintaining the temperature of the sample at or below temperatures ranging from -60�C to -150�C depending on the particular sample. The temperature of the sample must be maintained throughout all phases of the mission including transit, reentry and recovery on the ground. This requires a reliable thermal management system (TMS) that is mass and volume efficient.

Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. has developed a novel, consumable-based TMS for sample return missions that utilizes the latent heat of vaporization of a working fluid to absorb heat leaks from the environment. The system stores the working fluid within a positive-expulsion bladder that passively distributes liquid to a vapor chamber shielding the sample capsule. The saturated working fluid within the vapor chamber absorbs heat leaks through latent heat of vaporization. By periodically opening a valve, heat is released from the system by venting vapor into the external environment. The TMS is lightweight, scalable, requires minimal energy input and is applicable to a range of mission requirements. This paper will discuss the design, fabrication and testing of a vapor-venting TMS prototype for sample return missions.


Jeff Diebold, Advanced Cooling Technologies, US
Calin Tarau, Advanced Cooling Technologies, US
ICES202: Satellite, Payload, and Instrument Thermal Control
The 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, on 10 July 2022 through 14 July 2022.


Two-phase, Vapor venting, Sample return mission, Comet sample return, Thermal management system