Like the weather in Texas, the moon’s temperature varies drastically over the course of its day and night cycle. The moon’s surface can reach scorching temperatures as high as 250 degrees F during the day and a frigid 208 degrees below zero at night.
The recent funding from NASA, awarded through the Tipping Point initiative, will launch the SMA-based thermal control technology into its next phase.
“It’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of the team that advanced this technology to its current state and to learn that NASA is committed to further maturing the concept,” said Walgren.
Texas A&M researchers will begin their part of the project in the spring, which includes further development of the morphing radiator as well as the modeling and optimization of an accompanying thermal switch, also composed of SMAs. These thermally sensitive technologies represent uncharted territory, yet are critical to the operations of future space expeditions.
“It will be another successful example of morphing structures enabling something that couldn’t have been done before,” said Hartl. “It will be another example to the aerospace industry that you can have a structure adapt itself to its environment.”