Designing Rubber Compounds for Mars Exploration Missions

Rafal Piotr Anyszka, L. Jia (Contributor), Dariusz M. Bielinski (Contributor), Norbert Nizel (Contributor), Anke Blume (Contributor)

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Abstract

exploration draws significant attention as space agencies are able to deliver onto its
surface more and more sophisticated scientific devices that aim to reveal the secrets of the red
planet. Since February 2021, three rovers and one helicopter equipped with cutting-edge
technology explore the surface of Mars. The performance of rovers and other devices intended
to investigate Mars in the future is expected to grow as new types of software allow independent
operations, without a human operator. In such conditions, the sensitive equipment installed on
the rovers could suffer from vibrations caused by intensive driving. To overcome this
disadvantage, the application of elastic damping elements is required. However, currently, no
rubber compound is available that is specially designed for Mars’ environment. This work aims
to cover this gap by developing rubber compounds that can withstand the challenging
environmental conditions on Mars.
To fulfill this task 70/30 phr ratio blends of Butadiene and Silicone Rubbers (BR/VMQ) were
prepared. Silicone rubber exhibits the lowest glass transition temperature of all rubber types
and has high UV resistance, while butadiene rubber provides good mechanical properties and
wear resistance. However, bending these two types of rubber is a challenging task since they
are thermodynamically non-miscible. Therefore, Carbon Black (CB) of N330 and N774 grades
were added to improve the blend homogeneity and mechanical properties. The kinetics of
vulcanization parameters changed with the amount and type of the fillers. Also, the Payne effect
increased with the increased amount of CBs, which was more significant for the more
reinforcing N330 grade. In general, the compounds' dispersion and homogeneity were
moderate, except for the compound containing 50 phr of N330 CB. However, the best
homogeneity of this vulcanizate in combination with the poorly cured VMQ phase resulted in
reduced mechanic moduli during the tensile tests. Nevertheless, the properties of all the
compounds were on a satisfactory level allowing their application as rubber products of good
performance. The addition of CB shows the potential to improve the VMQ/BR blend
homogeneity, which may contribute to the future successful development of rubber for Mars.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2022
Event201st Technical Meeting of the Rubber Division, ACS 2022 - Knoxville, United States
Duration: 10 Oct 202213 Oct 2022

Conference

Conference201st Technical Meeting of the Rubber Division, ACS 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKnoxville
Period10/10/2213/10/22

Keywords

  • 2023 OA procedure

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