D-MEN: asteroid material for sample return

© Fraunhofer EMI
Various development models were deployed for extensive developmental and functional tests.

Fraunhofer EMI developed the D-MEN sampling device for extracting asteroid material. This additively manufactured device has a cylindrical body with a size of Ø 150 millimeters × 130 millimeters and comprises two chambers. After touchdown on board an asteroid lander, D-MEN collects material samples from near-Earth objects and stores them for its return to Earth. For this purpose, two chambers are used. A bed fluidization process fills one of the two chambers with loose material from the asteroid surface. In addition to this, pyrotechnically driven bolts (powder-actuated bolts) help to extract material from compact surfaces having more than 50 megapascals compressive strength in order to store it in the second chamber. Samples of a minimum of 100 grams asteroid material and particles of up to three centimeters size can thus be transported to Earth where comprehensive analyses will follow.

D-MEN collects loose surface particles and fragments in two separate chambers. Structural and functional elements of D-MEN were additively manufactured at Fraunhofer EMI by 3D metal-printing technology. © Fraunhofer EMI