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Waspie_Dwarf

Space penetrator passes icy test

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British space penetrator passes icy test

UK engineers have tested a projectile technology that they believe could be used to explore the Solar System.

The steel penetrator was fired at a 10-tonne cube of ice to simulate the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa.

It hit the block at a speed of 340m/s and decelerated rapidly, but its structure remained intact, as did its interior components.

Researchers say the penetrator would be a robust and inexpensive way to land instruments on other worlds.

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High-speed impacts test tech for future mission

19 August 2013 ESA is always thinking ahead to the next generation of space missions, testing new technology far in advance to make concepts a reality.

One area being tackled by ESA’s Future Missions Preparation Office is the high-speed delivery of planetary penetrators to sample and analyse the surface and immediate subsurface of a planet or moon.

Planetary penetrators are mini spacecraft that contain a suite of instruments, but they land at high speed – tens to hundreds of kilometres per hour – compared with the conventional “soft-landers” that have previously been used in planetary or lunar exploration. One benefit over landers and rovers is that penetrators provide access to the subsurface without the need for additional drilling or digging.

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High-speed ice impact

Slow motion views of a high-speed planetary penetrator impact into 10 tonnes of ice at 341 m/s. The test was conducted on 11 July 2013 at the rocket sled test facility at the Ministry of Defence Pendine site in Wales, UK. The tests were conducted as part of ESA’s Core Technology Programme under the Future Missions Preparation Office. They are being led by Astrium UK, with involvement by Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Qinetiq and Rapid Space Technologies.

Credit: Qinetiq/ESA

Source: ESA - Space in Videos

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Space penetrator mission - ice test and animation

The "Penetrator mission" will explore Jupiter's moon Europa in the future. Therefore, Astrium's planetary penetrator concept was tested in July 2013 at the Pendine range in Wales. Two penetrators were fired at nearly the speed of sound - one into a 2.5 metre cube of ice, and one into a sand target. Both penetrators survived the impacts.

Credit: Astrium

Source: Astrium - Video Gallery

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