Air Squared Projects

Semi-Hermetic Scroll Compressor for Mars 2020 Mission

The semi-hermetic P11H024A-BLDC-SH compressor combines high-performance, efficiency, and reliability, in a compact and lightweight design.

P11H024A-BLDC-SH Semi-Hermetic Scroll Compressor for the Mars 2020 Rover
P11H024A-BLDC-SH Semi-Hermetic Scroll Compressor for the Mars 2020 Rover

In early 2016, Air Squared was awarded a contract from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to develop a semi-hermetic scroll compressor that is capable of boosting Mars atmospheric pressure to match atmospheric pressure on Earth (7 Torr to 760 Torr). The compressor is part of the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) technology demonstration experiment for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Mars 2020 mission.

The compressor is capable of boosting 7 Torr of CO2 to 760 Torr at a mass flow rate of 0.028 g/sec. It is semi-hermetic and features an integrated motor design to minimize weight. At 2 kg, it is very lightweight relative to the performance delivered. The unit is designed to be extremely reliable, as required for an unmanned space mission. Another unique feature of the compressor is that it is designed for conduction cooling using a cold plate, rather than convection cooling common to most Air Squared designs.

The unit was presented to JPL along with a two-stage equivalent prototype. JPL selected the single-stage design as the flight unit because of the reduced part count over the two-stage counterpart. The single-stage design will be thoroughly flight qualified and tested throughout 2017.