To achieve NASA’s goal for Lunar to Mars and beyond habitation, advanced power systems and power system integration are required to influence multiple mission scenarios where power constraints have been a limiting factor. Students on the Northrop Grumman team will develop and validate innovative power designs and integrated power grid solutions for the extreme environment of the lunar surface.
Integration and optimization of power resources to sustain the Artemis Base Camp shown in the figure below is the primary goal of this project. The extreme and harsh lunar environments from poles to equator are a major challenge to overcome and are vital to the mission success.
Lunar bases and facilities require a robust, reliable, and fault tolerant integrated energy solution. Unlike the Earth’s power grid, a lunar power grid must support extreme environments on a continuous basis, from inception of the requirements definition to infrastructure development. The power infrastructure enables the commercial viability of open lunar power utilities, reducing risk and cost of lunar surface operations for human and non-human assets. Power outages cannot be permitted due to the extreme impact of outages on survivability of any occupants and the system itself. A robust and integrated lunar power solution for habitation in extreme environments must be modeled, analyzed, designed, developed, deployed, and demonstrated extensible to Mars to explore, refine, and recommend a power and power integration grid architecture, process, and standards for near-term inclusion in the Artemis Moon to Mars (M2M) initiatives.
The technical approach of this project needs to include a control system architecture capable of handling multiple inputs with varying power capabilities. For example, rovers or other assets may have lower operating voltage ranges than landers or solar arrays. The lunar surface power grid must be capable of taking inputs from multiple power sources when available and converting them to the necessary voltage to meet the loads of the various base camp assets that support human life. This microgrid concept must also be capable of using a distributed network of solar arrays that may or may not be in the same location as the base camp. The lunar surface energy architecture will incorporate a fusion of disparate elements, or mashup, into a system solution in a progressive manner. System elements to consider are detailed in the table.
Architecture Elements for Consideration.
|Power Sources||Solar, thermal, geothermal, chemical, fission, electrostatic, kinetic|
|Storage Options||Batteries, fuel cells, regenerative fuel cells, flywheels, chemical, superconducting wire, thermal|
|Load Variations||Astronaut operations, asset deployment, environmental conditions, mobile recharging surges, ISRU support activities|
|Distribution Options||Wired, power beaming (radio frequency), superconducting wire, optical/ laser|
|Power Management Options||Vertical Integrated Utility (VIU), Independent System Operator (ISO), Regional Transmission Operator (RTO), Smart Grid, Cooperative, Hybrid|
The key challenge with this project is overcoming the harsh lunar environment (e.g., temperature extremes, lunar night, solar flares, terrain obstacles, lunar seismicity, and dust) on each element within the developed power infrastructure. Lunar night survivability is vital to achieve the NASA Artemis vision. This includes the integration of various power sources such as batteries, regenerative fuel cells (RFCs), nuclear, solar when available, chemical heaters. This also includes the storage of this energy using flywheels as an example, but the students can evaluate other storage mechanisms. It requires the infrastructure to distribute the power to habitable areas, mobile assets, and other science missions. Also, the reuse of the biproducts from any of these technologies for use by the astronauts such as O2 coming from electrolysis processes minimizing waste and maximizing reuse. Finally, the hibernation of noncritical assets/electronics for lunar night survivability is required.
Goals and objectives include developing a system that:
- Enables rapid, safe, and efficient space transportation.
- Enables expanded access to diverse surface destinations.
- Enables sustainable living and working farther from Earth.
- Enables transformative missions and discoveries.
Without a reliable and constant power infrastructure, the Artemis vision cannot become a reality. Habitation by humans would not be possible nor non-human systems be sustainable in the harsh lunar environments. Artemis’ success is enabled by sufficient, constant energy supplied by a power architecture. Demonstrating a robust power infrastructure that encompasses the breadth of power sources, energy storage, distribution methods, and multi-dimensional loads of evolving and adaptive missions minimizes overall mass (and therefore cost) and reduces risk to humans. Optimized lunar surface power solutions can then be leveraged to enhance the Earth’s power systems and Mars infrastructure.
Controls System (2-3 Students)
Specific Skills: Solid understanding of control theory and practice.
Experience with microcontrollers, programming, control logic. Simulation of systems.
Likely Majors: CE, ECE, EE, CS, Any major with solid understanding of controls
Power Systems (2-3 Students)
Specific Skills: Power generation, conversion and, energy storage.
Experience with practical power system development.
Likely Majors: EE, CE, ECE, ISD-ESE
System Design and Validation (2-3 Students)
Specific Skills: Physical design, prototype creation, system integration, Subsystem validation testing, data management, data interpretation.
Likely Majors: ISD-ESE, EE, CE
Christienne Mancini has been working on large scale systems from Space Systems, Missile Defense Systems to UAS systems, as well as Submarines and Surface Ships and has 19 years full systems engineering life-cycle experience. Christienne Mancini joined Northrop Grumman in 2013 and has held a variety of chief engineer, systems engineering, and management positions. Currently, she is a Program Manager for Northrop Grumman’s Space Systems sector in the Science and Robotics Exploration unit.
With Northrop Grumman, Christienne managed projects including Space Systems for DoD and Intel customers and was the Principal Investigator for several Independent Research and Development (IRADs). Prior to joining Northrop Grumman, Mancini was a Systems Engineer with General Dynamics engaged in numerous DoD programs. Mancini gained full systems engineering life-cycle experience, from inception through integration, test and delivery of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) systems and systems of systems for Missile Defense Agency (MDA).
Mancini attended the University of Cambridge on a Boeing grant as a PhD scholar and earned an MPhil in Bulk Superconductivity. She also has a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University in engineering with a specialization in biomedical and mechanical engineering. She is highly active with outreach including the Global Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), ACP mentorships helping veterans, and enjoys mentoring of young engineering students in Africa.
Senior Principal Battery Engineer
NG Fellow/Engineering Systems Architect
Andrew Kwas graduated from the University of Michigan in 1980 with a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. He has 42 years with TRW/NGC working in advanced projects specializing in on orbit space products, astrophysics projects and weapon system developments. In Mr. Kwas’ role as a NG Fellow specializing in space and advanced manufacturing supports NASA, AFRL, NRO, DARPA, SMDC, ORSO and the Navy in high tech programs. Mr. Kwas is on the Technical Advisory Board for Cornell, U Michigan, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and U New Mexico. He is considered one of the prominent additive manufacturing (AM) experts in the country and has produced numerous papers in AM, advanced satellite technology, unique logistics solutions, and miniaturization of components. Mr. Kwas is an appointed Research Scholar at the University of New Mexico.
This is Andrew’s eighth MDP project.
Nilton Renno is a Professor in the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering department. His research interests include, aerosols and climate, astrobiology, instrument development, planetary science, systems engineering, and thermodynamics.
- This project is open to all students.
- International students on an F-1 visa will be required to declare part-time CPT during Winter 2023 and Fall 2023 terms.
IP/NDA: Student team members will sign IP/NDA documents that are unique to Northrop Grumman.
Internship/Summer Opportunity: No summer activity guaranteed. Internships may be available.