Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spanish Scientists Design a Chip to Measure the Wind on Mars

06.10.2008
A team of researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) has designed the first chip manufactured completely in Spain that will be used to measure the wind on Mars. This chip is the key piece of the anemometer on a weather monitoring station run by Spanish scientists for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, whose launch is planned for fall 2009.

The MSL rover, a robotised vehicle, will determine whether Mars is or has been able to support any kind of life. Among the instruments it contains are the Rover Environment Monitoring Station (REMS), which will measure air and ground temperature, atmospheric pressure, ultraviolet radiation and humidity, in addition to the speed and direction of the wind measured by the chip designed by the Spanish engineers. The details on this scientific contribution were recently published in the journal Planetary and Space Science.

Luis Castañer, coordinator of the Micro and Nano Technologies Research Group at the UPC which developed the piece, tells SINC that this chip “is more efficient in terms of energy than those previously developed, and silicon technology is being used for the first time for this application in space”.

Each silicon chip is 1.5 millimetres thick and includes three temperature-sensitive platinum components: One measures the temperature of the chip, the second heats it to some 25ºC above ambient temperature and the third controls the characteristics of the wind sensor. The chip also carries the names of its creators.

Hot wire anemometry was the principle used by the engineers to measure the wind. Castañer, a founding member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Engineering (RAI), notes that wind had traditionally been measured by a technique in which a wire was heated and then the air cooled it, varying its temperature. This made it possible to establish a relationship with the speed of the air flow. “In the case of the chip, the hot point is not a wire, but instead a piece of silicon heated by a fine film that covers it and acts as the resistance to heat”, he says.

The Micro and Nano Technologies Research Group (MNT) has patented a system that makes it possible to calculate the magnitude of the wind and its direction on a plane using four chips on a plate on that same plane, while at the same time taking the ambient temperature as a reference. The temperature is measured by a fifth chip, identical to the other four.

Wind speed can be measured in 2D with this methodology, but the speed in 3D can be deduced by using as many plates as necessary. The REMS weather monitoring station uses 6 wind sensors, with 5 silicon chips each, located on the ends of two booms and separated by an angle of 120°.

The chips were manufactured at the MNT group’s Laboratorio de la Sala Blanca, which counts on collaboration from the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB, the joint centre of the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), EADS Astrium Crisa (the company in charge of the industrial assembly of the station) and the Centro Nacional de Microelectrónica in Barcelona. Some tests were carried out in the wind tunnel at the University of Aarhus (Denmark).

The first principal researcher of the REMS project was Professor Luis Vázquez from the Complutense University of Madrid. This year, aeronautic engineer Javier Gómez Elvira from CAB, the centre responsible for the Martian weather monitoring station, as well as its principal contractor, took over.

The station has already incorporated the MSL rover, and is currently verifying its instruments under the supervision of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California (USA) so as to have everything ready in the fall of 2009 when its launch is planned.

The MSL will carry out four types of research. First, it will study the biological potential of the environment, taking inventory of the chemical elements required for life and detecting the presence of organic compounds. It will also classify the geology and geo-chemical makeup of the region, analysing the composition of the planet’s surface and interpreting the processes that have formed and modified its rocks. The rover’s instruments will also be used to investigate surface radiation and some atmospheric processes- such as those that involve water- that may be relevant in determining if living beings could have existed on the red planet in the past.

SINC Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
http://marsweb.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/sc_instru_rems.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>