Study Programs
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Adaptive Multi-Functional Space Structures for Micro-Climate Control

Team Leads
Prof. Sergio Pellegrino (Caltech)
Dr. Marco Quadrelli (JPL)
Dr. James Lyke (AFRL)

Opening Workshop May 19-23, 2014
Closing Workshop February 17-20, 2015

The scope of the study is to adapt the most recent advances in multi-functional reconfigurable and adaptive structures to enable a micro-environment control that enables space exploration in extreme environments (EE).

The technical goal is to identify the most efficient materials, architectures, structures and means of deployment/reconfiguration, system autonomy and energy management solutions needed to optimally project/generate a micro-environment around space assets. This novel solution is called an energy-projecting system (EPS). For example, compact packed thin-layer reflective structures unfolding to large areas, can reflect solar energy, warming and illuminating assets such as exploration rovers on Mars or human habitats on the Moon. Specifically, we are seeking solutions that revolutionize space missions through a dramatic increase in the ability to survive extreme environments, leading to:

  • innovative ways to redirect solar energy into extreme environmental sites, enabling the exploration of permanently shadowed craters and caves, and extremely hot or cold areas, without use of radio-isotope thermal generators (RTG);
  • innovative types of lightweight and multifunctional structures; with multiple advantages in packaging and deployment of space structures;
  • new types of robotic/autonomous systems, manufactured/printed in 2D, but morphing/ shapechanging their 3D shapes.

The primary benefit of this study is to enable missions that would otherwise be too technologically challenging and/or expensive, in particular those that would involve long periods of time without direct solar input or RTGs, the availability of which may be limited in the future. Studies of permanently shadowed environments would particularly benefit, with remote deployables providing illumination, energy and communications. Other uses can be, e.g., to serve as a sun-shield to protect rovers from very strong sun, a thermal blanket to help them retain heat and survive a cold night, a calibration target for instruments, etc.

This study will bring mission designers together with experts in these technologies, resulting in a better understanding of where we can best apply these ideas in space science, and leading toward focused development of the most promising concepts.

For questions contact: Prof. Sergio Pellegrino, Dr. Marco Quadrelli, Dr. James Lyke, or Michele Judd


Prof. Sergio Pellegrino

Study Co-Lead Prof. Sergio Pellegrino, from Caltech.

Dr. Marco Quadrelli

Study Co-Lead Dr. Marco Quadrelli, from JPL.

Dr. James Lyke

Study Co-Lead Dr. James Lyke, from AFRL