The Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program will send a cohort of 15 adult female mice, into low earth orbit, onboard a rotating capsule designed to simulate Martian Gravity. The capsule will spend 5 weeks orbiting Earth, after which it will deorbit and fly a trajectory through Earth's atmosphere before being decelerated by a parachute descent system. The capsule will finally land, in the Woomera Prohibited Area in the South Australian desert.
This investigation will develop a method of attenuating the impact upon the landing of the space module on recovery to Earth. It has been determined that the most feasible means of maintaining low deceleration levels and thus lower stress for the biological pay- load is via the use of an inflatable airbag system.
On impact, the gas pressure inside the airbag increases thus enabling the transfer of kinetic energy into potential energy in the form of the compressed gas. To minimise deceleration loads and bounce of the recovery vehicle, orifices are introduced into the airbags at a critical pressure, dissipating the accumulated energy from within the airbags.
This study will develop a venting mechanism through the use of an experimental apparatus to simulate the attenuation process. This is achieved through the investigation of various venting methods, including burst pressure disks, pyrotechnic devices and electrical hot wire.
Hot wire is implemented in combination with the experimental apparatus to simulate the diffusion of gas exiting the airbag during compression through a fixed area orifice. The purpose of this apparatus is to verify the fidelity of the numerical model so that future testing can be performed predominantly numerically.
Simon Yeh has investigated the Design of a Drop Test Rig, which will make use of the venting mechanism, to model the attenuation of the entire system.