MAHLI & MastCam


Mars atmosphere represents a very harsh thermal environment, with temperature fluctuations in excess of 200C over a 24h period. High precision electronics, such as MAHLI and Mastcam designed by Malin Space Science Systems, are particularly sensitive to thermal gradients. These thermal effects must be very carefully studied and predicted in order to attenuate or negate them.


MastCam_ThermalPredict Thermal Behavior

Quartus was contracted by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) to perform thermal analysis of two imaging instrument for the MSL mission: MAHLI and MastCam. High fidelity thermal models were built to analyze the multiple load cases involving a mission on Mars: extreme temperature gradients, complex external and internal radiation and Albedo effects.

Mature Thermal Model for Integration

Using I-DEAS TMG thermal modeling and analysis code, many thermal environments were studied to verify the designs and guaranty functional suitability of the instruments during the MSL mission. Optics thermal isolation, electronics overheating or cold-start ability as well as survival modes were studied. Sizing and distribution of heater strips were also studied to ensure the instruments would properly warm-up while subjected to extreme cold.


Engineering Methods

  • Thermal Analysis
  • Orbital Heating Analysis
  • Diurnal Heating Analysis
  • Albedo Effects Analysis Radiation Analysis

Computer Aided Tools

  • NX I-DEAS™


Quartus Engineering acted as thermal specialists for MSSS and supported the successful Critical Design Review of MAHLI and MastCam. Both instruments were demonstrated to survive harsh cold and hot environments, heaters were sized to allow for electronics warm-up for cold starts.