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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NEWTON (New portable multi-sensor scientific instrument for non-invasive on-site characterisation of rock from planetary surface and sub-surfaces)

NEWTON Report Summary

Project ID: 730041
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NEWTON (New portable multi-sensor scientific instrument for non-invasive on-site characterisation of rock from planetary surface and sub-surfaces)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

NEWTON is an international research project co-funded from EU H2020 programme funds. The project NEW portable multi-sensor scienTific instrument for non-invasive ON-site characterisation of rock from planetary surface and sub-surfaces (NEWTON) aims at developing a new portable and compact multi-sensor instrument for ground breaking high resolution magnetic characterisation of planetary surfaces and sub-surfaces through the combination of complex susceptibility and vector measurements. The novel technology applied to NEWTON instrument provides significant improvements in instrument performance while at the same time making possible to include the instrument in rovers for planetary exploration. With this, NEWTON gives the first opportunity to perform high resolution and complete non-invasive in-situ magnetic characterization of planetary surfaces and subsurfaces. This non-invasive characterization will provide unique scientific information on some of the main objectives related to the Solar System exploration roadmap such as the intense magnetic crustal anomalies of Mars and the strongly discussed formation of its moons. Moreover, the benefits of NEWTON technology provide ample opportunities for spin-in/spin-out effects between space and non-space technology fields, where the outcoming instrument would represent a real advantage over existing products.
NEWTON consortium is comprised by six partners from three European countries: TTI, leading the project, National Institute for Aerospace Technology Esteban Terradas (INTA) and Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) from Spain, University of Trier (UT) and Institut für Industriellen und Geotechnischen Umweltschutz (IGU) from Germany and the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique (LPG) from France.
NEWTON project was split into two reporting periods. The first one from M1 until M12, i.e. from 01.11.2016 till 31.10.2017, and the second one from M13 till the end of the project in M36. This document details the work undertaken during the first period of NEWTON.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The reporting period covers from 01.11.2016 till 31.10.2017. The technical activities developed within this period have been focused on the definition of the scenarios and requirements of NEWTON multi-sensor instrument, as well as the preliminary design of its key building blocks.
NEWTON project aims to develop a new instrument with no precedent. Therefore, it is not a matter of meeting specifications, but to set the specifications. For this purpose, an exhaustive analysis of scenarios has been developed during the first months of the project. NEWTON multi-sensor instrument provides new technology for non-invasive in-situ planetary exploration. With this regard, and considering the Solar System future exploration roadmap, the Moon and Mars have been selected as the possible scenarios of application of NEWTON technology. With the aim of maximizing the impact of NEWTON, different prototypes are being developed within the project. Two prototypes (named prototype 1 and 3) are being developed for planetary application, while a slightly (reduced) adapted version of prototype 1 (named prototype 2) is developed in order to demonstrate the spin-off of the technology between space and non-space fields.
The three prototypes share the same architecture while they provide different performance capabilities adapted to different scenarios. The key building blocks of the three prototypes are the same, i.e. Power Distribution Unit (PDU), the Electronic Control Unit and the Sensor Unit (SU). The SU is at the same time divided in the sensor head, which includes magnetometer and susceptometer, and the electronics for the generation and processing of the excitation and measurement signals.
During this reporting period, the architecture of the three prototypes has been defined and the key building blocks have been preliminary designed. In addition to this, some preliminary validation tests have been already performed to analyze the feasibility of these initial designs. In this sense, some field campaigns have been carried out in Barda Negra crater (Argentina) and in Lanzarote (Spain) with part of the hardware developed for the preliminary design.
In addition to this, a significant effort has been dedicated to the communication, dissemination and exploitation of NEWTON. At the start of the project when no results were available, the communication activities have been focused on the public disclosure of the project and its main objectives. The main communication channels used to implement this have been the NEWTON official web site and social networks. After first results were obtained, the activities have been devoted to disseminate these achievements and to promote the technological advances in scientific conferences and journals, along with the creation of a broader awareness of the developed technologies and results in academic and business forums.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

NEWTON project will bring new technology for space exploration. The objective of the project is the development and validation of a new portable and compact multi-sensor instrument for ground breaking high-resolution magnetic characterisation of planetary surfaces and sub-surfaces through the combination of complex susceptibility and vector measurements. This technology opens new horizons for the in-situ characterisation of materials with the determination of the real and imaginary components of the susceptibility based for the first time on time measurements, which is a very sensitive and accurate method. Moreover, NEWTON technology will relax the need of sample preparation in the sensor head thanks to its innovative field generation system.
The innovation provided by NEWTON project open a new via in the understanding of key questions of the Solar System exploration which cannot be solved with the present affordable technology. To date, systematic magnetic surveys on Mars, Mercury and the Moon have been only performed by satellites in orbit. Surface measurements were only performed on the Moon during the Apollo era, and revealed dramatically varying magnetic fields over kilometre scales. Worldwide experts in planetary magnetism strongly recommend magnetic prospections on ground with rovers to obtain detailed magnetic signatures and rocks susceptibilities prior to sample-return mission. However, they have not been performed so far for the incompatibility of magnetic instrumentation with the magnetic noise of the landed platforms. NEWTON will overcome this limitation and will shed light on questions as the intense magnetic anomalies of Mars, the characteristics of its past field, the origin of Phobos and Deimos and whether comets brought the life to the Earth.
Furthermore, NEWTON project lead potential opportunities for spin-in/spin-out effects between space and non-space field technologies. With this regard, NEWTON novel technologies can be applied in different fields. One of the fields in which the project could have greater impacts is in the geophysical engineering. High resolution mapping of distinct magnetic properties might provide a characterization of most distinct natural rocks and their complex three-dimensional geological structure which allows a better in-situ interpretation with the consequent time and cost savings.

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