HOTTech Venus Motor
Venus is Earth’s sister planet — similar in size, but with intense pressure and heat at the surface (more than 90 atmospheres and 460°C). Though it is of great scientific interest, few systems are able to withstand the harsh surface conditions.
Honeybee Robotics is collaborating with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to build a multi-purpose Venus motor that will enable extended surface operations and actuation of systems outside the thermally controlled spacecraft interior. The actuator, which consists of a brushless DC motor, PIPS commutation sensor, and planetary gearbox, is designed to power a variety of subsystems that need mobility, including robotic arms, deployment systems, drills, camera gimbals, communication antennas or sample manipulators. Following environmental performance testing, the system will be at TRL 6 in mid-2018.
The Venus actuator to be developed under the NASA’s HOTTech program will withstand 500°C. The baseline actuator is a 200W system powered by a typical 28V spacecraft bus.
With this project, Honeybee aims to advance the science and craft of high-temperature actuator development to enable a range of future missions to Venus and other high-temperature destinations.