How to design rubber materials withstanding Martian environment?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

Abstract

Rubber materials exhibit unique viscoelastic properties which deliver advantages for applications involving dynamic deformations and vibrations. They are difficult to replace as sealings, tyres, dumpers, flexible belts and hoses and
many more. For the further exploration and planned colonization of Mars such materials are required. However, high ionizing radiation levels resulting from the lack of magnetosphere cause a damage of the chemical structure of rubbers. Low atmospheric pressure may cause vaporization of low molecular rubber additives. Whereas low temperature might reduce the viscoelastic properties of rubber when reaching the level of its glass transition.
Therefore, nowadays utilization of rubber materials in Martian landers and rovers is relatively narrow due to their limited durability in Martian environment. For instance, the wheels of Martian rovers are made of alternative materials like aluminium and titanium exhibiting significantly poorer viscoelastic behaviour than rubber, which results in relatively fast wheel damage [1].
This project aims to develop rubber materials for long term utilization on Mars, considering all the influencing features of Martian environment, namely: higher operating temperature range, lower average temperature, lower pressure, ionizing space radiation, higher UV-VIS radiation, inert atmosphere and erosive dust storms.
Moreover, the second part of the project will focus on functional mineral fillers preparation from Martian regolith simulant to meet the in-situ resources utilization requirements. The regolith consists of metal and half-metal oxides,
which can be processed by a special precipitation method into a high performance nanofiller [2].
References:
[1] http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2014/08190630-curiosity-wheel-damage.html [access: 17 Jul
2019]
[2] Sharafudeen, R., Al-Hashim, J.M., Al-Harbi, M.O. et al. Silicon (2017) 9: 917. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12633-016-
9531-8
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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