We describe laboratory tests to investigate and demonstrate the acquisition and encapsulation of a subsurface sample from a comet analogue using a coring penetrator. The penetrator imbeds itself in the target, coring out a sample during the impact itself. Mechanisms seal the sample in a canister and the canister is spring-ejected from the rear of the penetrator where it can be retrieved in free-flight by a mother spacecraft, which thus need not perform a landing. We describe the penetrator vehicle, sample preparation and testing technique using the large airgun at the University of Arizona, and the performance results which indicate the technique is an attractive option for comet nucleus sample return.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aerospace Engineering