Is Maine like Mars in the Winter?

August 10, 2018

by admin

Is Maine like Mars in the Winter?

From 90°+F in the summer to -20°F in the winter, our fuel grains were exposed to a wide temperature range, causing them to expand and contract. Two things would happen – cracking and fuel casing separation. Neither of those are desirable for our ultimate rocket. So in the depths of the winter we dived in to solve these challenges. It took about 40 iterations but we finally landed upon a solution.We made some changes to our fuel casing and the composition of the fuel grain itself that prevented separation in even temperatures of -112°F and minimized the cracking to the point where the fuel would not separate from itself.Without the challenges of the Maine season we probably would have never tackled this challenge. But you might ask – why are temperature swings even important? All you have to do is think about the great temperature swings a rocket will experience throughout its flight – even if it’s launch from the cozy temps of Cape Canaveral. At launch it could start off in high humidity and the upper 80’s. But during the final phase of the flight the last stage experiences the brutal sun on one side but the deep chill of dark space on the opposite.Or, as CalTech and NASA has imagined it, you could deploy a hybrid rocket on to the surface of Mars to send back surface samples back to Earth. While it’s waiting on the surface for months at a time temperatures can get down to as low as -100°C (-148°F). Be sure to catch Dr. Ashley Karp’s Mark 2017 lecture covering the topic here.(oh, and yeah, Maine is still not as cold as Mars is in the winter ;))

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