Hedgefog Research Inc. (HFR) proposes to develop a multicolor Pyrometer for Regolith-extracted Oxygen (PyRO) for use in vacuum-pumped foundries designed to extract oxygen from lunar regolith on the surface of the moon. The flexible design of the sensor will allow for accurate temperature determination for systems with well-known emissivity values as well as accurate high-temperature measurement for systems in which the temperature- and wavelength-dependent emissivities are unknown. Crucially for this application, the sensor will be constructed to operate in a hermetic, non-outgassing package under significant radiant heating loads and a highly corrosive environment without polluting extracted oxygen/water/metals. While optimized for several methods of resource extraction from lunar highland regolith, PyRO is adaptable for non-contact temperature measurement of any practical system. The vacuum-compatible design and low size, weight and power requirements will allow for a portable version to be developed for use by human or robotic settlers beyond Earth. In Phase I, HFR will design system components of PyRO, evaluate their performance in non-contact temperature measurement, and down-select key components and enabling technologies for future development. We will also conduct a preliminary design for the fully-packaged PyRO prototype optimized for temperature stability and corrosion resistance.
Accurate non-contact temperature measurement is a ubiquitous requirement in all types of material processing. Any long-term extraterrestrial human settlement must necessarily have well-developed facilities for in-situ resource utilization. Optimizing these utilization processes requires careful control of all experimental parameters, including temperature. In addition, a compact, extremely rugged non-contact temperature sensor will find use in non-destructive component inspection and performance evaluation for high temperature devices.
A pyrometer optimized for harsh vacuum operation will find use in an array of material processing and laboratory environments requiring high temperature measurements in vacuum. Commercially available pyrometers are custom tailored for chosen industrial processes. The inherent flexibility of PyRO and its tolerance to a variety of process conditions will make it an attractive commercial technology.