A Miniaturized 3D Heat Flux Sensor to Characterize Heat Transfer in Regolith of Planets and Small Bodies

Domínguez Pumar, M., Rodríguez Manfredi, J. A., Jimenez, V., Bermejo, S., Pons Nin, J. (2020). A Miniaturized 3D Heat Flux Sensor to Characterize Heat Transfer in Regolith of Planets and Small Bodies. Sensors, 20, 15 DOI: 10.3390/s20154135

The objective of this work is to present the first analytical and experimental results obtained with a 3D heat flux sensor for planetary regolith. The proposed structure, a sphere divided in four sectors, is sensible to heat flow magnitude and angle. Each sector includes a platinum resistor that is used both to sense its temperature and provide heating power. By operating the sectors at constant temperature, the sensor gives a response that is proportional to the heat flux vector in the regolith. The response of the sensor is therefore independent of the thermal conductivity of the regolith. A complete analytical solution of the response of the sensor is presented. The sensor may be used to provide information on the instantaneous local thermal environment surrounding a lander in planetary exploration or in small bodies like asteroids. To the best knowledge of the authors, this is the first sensor capable of measuring local 3D heat flux.

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