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Title: Acoustic anemometry on the surface of Mars
Author: Leonard-Pugh, Eurion
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 1003
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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There is a need for wind sensors with high accuracy and measurement frequency for deployment on the surface of Mars. The wind data obtained to date have been adversely affected by thermal contamination and calibration issues. Improved data would not only help to constrain and validate theoretical models, but also increase safety and longevity of lander operations. The mechanical and thermal wind sensing techniques used on previous missions, whilst sufficient for basic meteorology, are wholly inadequate for measuring fundamental phenomena such as dust and volatile transport. Two promising technologies, optical and acoustic anemometry, could permit precise and high-frequency measurement of three-dimensional wind speeds on the Martian surface. Ultrasonic acoustic anemometry, which relies on time-of-flight measurements, was ultimately chosen for its lower processing requirements and ability to measure the speed of sound; and therefore temperature. Capacitive transducers were selected for their low impedance and high sensitivity, to maximise signal transmission through the rarefied Martian atmosphere. These transducers, which consist of a metallised polymer film oscillating on top of a contoured metal backplane, were evaluated for their suitability as anemometers on the Martian surface. A theoretical framework was assembled to model transducer performance and determine which factors are the most important in determining received signal amplitude. A pair of transducers were designed and manufactured to allow for testing of a wide range of parameters including thickness of the oscillating membrane and diameter. Tests were carried out on the assembled transducers to investigate the dependence on these parameters, and their behaviour was generally found to fit the assembled theoretical framework well. Transducer performance was highly dependent on roughness depth of the backplanes, as expected. The frequency response of the transducers was dominated by the backplane roughness at atmospheric pressure but by film thickness at low pressures. Cross-correlation of the sent and received signals was confirmed as the most reliable signal detection method at low signal amplitudes. The transducers were tested under simulated Martian conditions (a low-pressure carbon dioxide atmosphere with airborne dust), and found to be capable of accurately and reliably measuring the incident wind speed. The cumulative deposition of airborne dust noticeably reduced received signal amplitude, but further testing is required to determine the effect of significant amounts of dust on transducer performance. The impact of the transducer heads impeding the incident fluid flow was found to be very significant in wind tunnel testing. Preliminary computational models were found to accurately predict these effects, but a more comprehensive modelling campaign and experimental validation would be required to ensure accurate instrument calibration.
Supervisor: Calcutt, Simon; Wilson, Colin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Atmospheric,Oceanic,and Planetary physics ; Sensors ; Electronics ; Anemometry ; Wind ; Mars ; Atmosphere ; Sensor ; Planetary ; Boundary ; Layer ; Acoustic ; Electrostatic ; Transducer ; Surface