Browsing by Subject "Laser drilling"

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  • Anthony, Niklas; Frostevarg, Jan; Suhonen, Heikki; Granvik, Mikael (2021)
    We present the results of two sets of experiments that investigate laser-based metal-to-rock attachment techniques. Asteroids and comets have low surface gravity which pose a challenge to landers with moving parts. Such parts can generate torques and forces which may tip the lander over or launch it into deep space. Thus, if a lander on a small body is to have moving parts, the spacecraft must be equipped with an anchoring mechanism. To this end, we sought to use a laser to melt and bind a piece of metal mimicking a part of a spacecraft to a rock mimicking the surface of a typical asteroid. In the first set of experiments, extra material was not fed in during the processing. The second set were performed using a standard wire feeder used in laser welding, which added metal to the experiment during processing. During the first experiments, we discovered that a traditional weld, where two melt pools mix and solidify to form a strong bond, was not possible-the melt pools would not mix, and when they did, the resulting weld was extremely brittle. The second set of experiments resulted in a physico-mechanical bond, where a hole was drilled with a laser, and a wire was melted and fed into the hole. These latter experiments were successful in forming bonds as strong as 115 N. Such an attachment mechanism can also be used to maneuver small boulders on asteroid surfaces, to redirect small, monolithic asteroids, or in space-debris removal.
  • Anthony, Niklas; Frostevarg, Jan; Suhonen, Heikki; Wanhainen, Christina; Penttila, Antti; Granvik, Mikael (2021)
    Asteroid mining and redirection are two trends that both can utilize lasers, one to drill and cut, the other to ablate and move. Yet little is known about what happens when a laser is used to process the types of materials we typically expect to find on most asteroids. To shed light on laser processing of asteroid material, we used a 300-W, pulsed Ytterbium fiber laser on samples of olivine, pyroxene, and serpentine, and studied the process with a high-speed camera and illumination laser at 10 000 frames per second. We also measure the sizes of the resulting holes using X-ray micro-tomography to find the pulse parameters which remove the largest amount of material using the least amount of energy. We find that at these power densities, all three minerals will melt and chaotically throw off spatter. Short, low-power pulses can efficiently produce thin, deep holes, and long, high-power pulses are more energy efficient at removing the most amount of material.