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Multi-Wavelength Dielectrometer (MWD) Sensor For Planetary Subsurface Exploration

By Lawrence Hilliard, Michael VanSteenberg and Manohar Deshpande


NASA's mission to Moon, Mars, and Beyond envisions landing of a light weight measurement platform on the planetary surface. The Multi-Wavelength Dielectrometer (MWD) on-board consists of essential electronics and metallic plates acting as electrodes attached to the body of such platform. An electric signal applied to one of the electrodes acting as a cathode sets up electric field pattern (in the soil medium) between the cathode and other electrodes acting as anodes. The electrodes are swept through multiple wavelengths (1Hz-1MHz) and the electric current drawn by the electrodes is measured at each frequency. The measured current whose amplitude and phase depend upon electrode spacing, dielectric constant of the subsurface soil, and the frequency is then used to estimate electrical properties of the soil. In this paper the MWD sensor that will measure the dielectric properties of Moon/Mars s soil is presented. A procedure to process the MWD measured data for extracting the soil properties is also described. Assuming the subsurface soil structure as multilayer strata having varying electric properties, an electric equivalent circuit of the multiple electrodes configuration placed on a multi-layer soil sample is obtained. The current drawn by the equivalent circuit from the low frequency signal generator is then calculated. By minimizing the difference between the model s estimated current and measured MWD data the electric properties of soil samples are extracted. Experimental and simulated results will be presented to validate the proposed procedure for extracting soil properties

Topics: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Year: 2006
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