Interpretation of Measurements with Novel Thermal Conductivity Sensors Suitable for Space Applications

N. I. Kömle[1], G. Kargl[1], E. Kaufmann[2], J. Knollenberg[2], and W. Macher[1]
[1]Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria
[2]DLR Institut für Planetenforschung, Berlin, Germany
Published in 2011

Thermal conductivity of near surface soil layers is a key parameter for understanding the energy balance of planetary bodies. To measure this property, heated needle sensors are frequently used in field and laboratory applications. To adapt this type of sensors for application on space missions, various modifications have to be implemented.

An example for such a modified sensor is the so-called MUPUS penetrator, which is part of the payload of the comet lander Philae aboard ESA’s comet mission Rosetta. We present some example calculations, focussed on the MUPUS instrument and on newly developed thick needle sensors, to demonstrate the usefulness of a detailed COMSOL model both for proper sensor calibration and for the interpretation of thermal conductivity and heat flux measurements.