Dynovas’ Motorless Extension, Leveling, and Tracking (MELT) array system eliminates motors from all operations of a modular lunar surface solar array. The elimination of motors with the MELT array system can: increase weight efficiency to exceed 75 W/kg, increase volume efficiency to exceed 20 kW/m3, and be compatible with any array power module design (e.g., Dynovas’ MAD Energy array, NGC UltraFlex array, DSS ROSA array, etc.) while providing a dust resistant method of deployment. The MELT array system utilizes smart material actuators (e.g., piezoelectrics and/or shape memory alloys) in a “caterpillar” configuration to achieve both the necessary deployment force and translational distances for extension, rotation, and leveling. The actuation devices will be mounted to a bi-stable composite substrate. The bistable composite substrate will provide rigidity in the stowed and deployed state such that the force on the actuators is negligible except when actuating. Minimizing the force on the actuators except when operating will minimize the power draw and maximize the lifetime of the motorless system.
When realized, the MELT array system will provide NASA and space exploration OEMs with a modular and scalable base system for the 10 m extension, 360° rotation for sun tracking, and 15° terrain leveling with a dust resistant universal motorless actuation package. The MELT array system smart material caterpillar also provides cross-cutting benefits to the array, including: inherent load limiting via voltage input, ability for integration of structural health monitoring capabilities within the composite, active vibration tuning for dampening and dust mitigation, and general applicability to other deployable structures.
The maturation of the MELT array aligns with critical NASA technology milestones for human exploration and operations, such as: asteroid redirect, lunar surface missions, Mars-to-moon missions, Mars surface missions. The specific market for lunar missions by NASA includes the Artemis, VIPER, CLPS, Moon-to-Mars, and Orion programs/missions. By aligning the maturation of the MELT array system with NASA’s lunar program, Dynovas estimates that up to 10s to 100s of arrays may be built to support landing, exploration, and orbiting of the Moon.
Non-NASA markets for the MELT array system include commercial spacecraft OEMs and power generation for satellite networks, orbiting debris removal, and experimentation satellites. Non-space-based markets could include remotely operated electrically driven vehicles or deployment with Special Operators or forward deployed military facilities for on-demand power.