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Title: Advancing the dual reciprocating drill design for efficient planetary subsurface exploration
Author: Pitcher, C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 6122
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2017
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Accessing the subsurface of planetary bodies with drilling systems is vital for furthering our understanding of the solar system and in the search for life and volatiles. The extremely stringent mass and sizing mission constraints have led to the examination of novel low-mass drilling techniques. One such system is the Dual-Reciprocating Drill (DRD), inspired by the ovipositor of the sirex noctilio, which uses the reciprocation of two halves lined with backwards-facing teeth to engage with and grip the surrounding substrate. For the DRD to become a viable alternative technique, further work is required to expand its testing, improve its efficiency and evolve it from the current proof-of-concept to a system prototype. To do this, three areas of research were identified. This involved examining how the drill head design affects the drilling depth, exploring the effects of ice content in regolith on its properties and drilling performance, and determining the benefits of additional controlled lateral motions in an integrated actuation mechanism. The tests performed in this research revealed that the cross-sectional area of the drill head was by far the most significant geometrical parameter with regards to drilling performance, while the teeth shape had a negligible effect. An ice content of 5 ± 1% in the regolith corresponded to an increase in drilling time and a clear change in the regolith's physical properties. Finally, it was demonstrated that the addition of lateral motions allowed the drill to achieve greater depths. This work has advanced both the understanding and design of the DRD considerably. It has continued the exploration of the geometrical and substrate parameters that affect drilling performance and provided the first characterisation of the properties of an icy lunar polar simulant. The construction and testing of the complex motion internal actuation mechanism has both evolved the DRD design and opened a new avenue through which the system can be further optimised.
Supervisor: Gao, Y. Sponsor: OHB System AG
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available