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Research Tasks

BiBlade Sampler for Small Body Sample Return

BiBlade Sampler for Small Body Sample Return
A prototype of the BiBlade sampler.
Full Title: A BiBlade Sampler for Small Body Sample Return Matured for a Comet Surface Sample Return Mission Concept

The task will mature the BiBlade sampling chain concept from TRL 4 to TRL 6. The BiBlade sampling chain was developed for use in a Touch-and-Go (TAG) mission architecture where a spacecraft would maneuver to several meters from the surface of a small body and then deploy a sampling tool at the end of a robotic arm to the comet surface. Two blades of the sampling tool would be quickly driven into the surface using springs, and the spacecraft would thrust away from the comet immediately upon initiation of the sampling action. While closed, the blades would temporarily encapsulate a sample before sample measurement and final deposit into a conceptual sample chamber. The robotic arm would transfer the sampler to a sample measurement station where the sample would be measured using a multi-fiberscope sample imager system and then the sample would be transferred to a sample chamber in a notional Sample Return Capsule (SRC). A lid stored on the sampler would then be released over a SRC sample chamber to encapsulate the sample. It is anticipated that a three degree-of-freedom (DOF) robotic arm would deploy the BiBlade sampler to the surface of the comet, and transfer the sample to the measurement station and a SRC. The arm would be attached such that reacted forces during sampling would react through the spacecraft center of mass so sampling forces safely push the spacecraft away from the comet during the sampling event. The task will build a new prototype of the BiBlade sampler and validate the sample chain to TRL 6.

This work is funded by the NASA Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration (MatISSE) program.
Point of Contact: Paul Backes