VIPER REXUS

We just had our internal Preliminary Design Review. We invited students and professors from FH Aachen and RWTH Aachen to enjoy the presentation we prepared for the Training Week in Oberpfaffenhofen next week. We discussed the content of the presentation as well as its layout. We also prepared a couple of slides for questions of the engineers in Oberpfaffenhofen that might occur. It took us almost two hours until we were done, only to review a twenty minutes presentation šŸ˜€ So as you can see, we were quite detailed.

Today, we had our first team meeting this year. We were reviewing everything that was done during the free time since christmas and discussed what has to be done for the PDR. Expecially the Structure team has a lot to do. The design needs to be finalized. We focused on the design of the Heat Probe Pushing Mechanism (HPPM). At the moment, we want to have a spring to push the heatprobe, guided by a cylindrical shielding, including a force sensor. So far, we don’t have space for a camera, but we will also find a solution for that. The Electronics team is proceeding and is about to build and test a first version of a board for the temperature sensors. Apart from that, we have to get started with the documentation for the SED.

Finally we recieved the message that we have our flight ticket for the rocket! So come and see us at the bar tonight šŸ˜‰

But of course, now it’s all getting serious. There is not much time left until the Preliminary Design Review in February, so a whole bunch of work is waiting for us. We have to make lots of decisions about our design, structure, electronics, sensors…

Wow, that was the selection workshop in Bonn. We met a couple of the other REXUS and BEXUS teams from germany and enjoyed their presentations. Some of them have really fancy ideas. Today, it was our turn. It went quite well, and we didn’t get any critical questions. The engineers would like usĀ not to use so many LiPo batteries (so far we planned to use 1kg of them). They assured that we can get ground power until the rocket lifts off. Because of that, we can cancel the rechargeable LiPo batteries and use a smaller amount of unrechargeable Nimh batteries. Of course, we now have to design a connector for ground power supply that automatically disconnects when the rocket lifts off. Nevertheless, we went home with another very nice experience, some new friends and of course a delay of the train.

Four of us at the Selection Workshop in Bonn

All the teams at the Selection Workshop

We’ve discussed the technical details of our experiment and came to a conclusion that we want to present at the selection workshop in Bonn. So far, we don’t have any final decisions. We are planning to have three containers for the ice, as you can see in the picture. These will be pressed against a sealed lid to prevent the fluid from flooding the rocket. At the moment we’re thinking about how to cool the ice containers, maybe with peltier elements or with dry ice?

Dear future scientist, follower, fan or random visitor,

our team came together due to a phone call that reached our professor not too long ago. He instantly informed us during our spaceflight class about the opportunity to take part in the REXUS programme. Three hours later, we founded our team and divided us into 5 sections:

  • Structure
  • Thermal
  • Science
  • Programming and Electronics
  • PR/Outreach

Work started shortly after, and we also found some more team members. A huge amount of work is about to come, because there are only 3 weeks left until the selection workshop of DLR starts. There we have to present our experiment to a couple of engineers of ZARM, DLR, SSC and MORABA. These engineers will select the teams that are going to fly with the REXUS rocket…

Did you ever look up into the nightsky, watching the stars and thinking about life on other planets or solar systems? What could it look like? How could we communicate?

These are some of the questions astronoms are trying to answer for hundreds of years. Until now, they weren’t successful…

But there are chances to find marks of extraterrestrial life in our own solar system. One of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, mostly consists out of ice. Under its icy surface, scientists presume an ocean. In there, we probably can find evidenceĀ for life.

But how can we reach this ocean? Obviously, it’s no problem to reach Enceladus, as a couple of missions proof. Cassini for example flew to saturn and separated Huygens, which landed on Titan on 14.01.2005. But when we are there, how can we get through the ice?

Of course, we need to melt our way through it. So far, there haven’t been any experiments dealing with melting through ice in vacuum and under microgravity conditions. As FH Aachen already has a working icemole (a robot that can melt through the ice), we want to add some space related knowledge that could lead into a future mission to the ocean of Enceladus. One of these projects, DiMIce, is currently dealing with the situation on Enceladus. Please find more information about that here.

Cassini, Saturn and Enceladus | Quelle: Flickr, Kevin Gill

Enceladus | Quelle: Flickr, Stuart Rankin