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.