Sampling System for Hypothesized Surfaces – NAU


Northern Arizona University


Cobalt Class (2019 – 2020)


Andrew Acosta, Mechanical Engineering
Sultan Almarzouqi, Mechanical Engineering
Sam Armstrong, Mechanical Engineering
Karissa Barroso, Mechanical Engineering
Scott Sprauer, Mechanical Engineering


Dr. Sarah Oman, Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering Department, NAU


The Psyche mission is set to launch in 2022 and arrive at the asteroid in 2026. It is an orbiter mission and will not land on the surface. Instead, it will spend 21 months performing science operations from four staging orbits, which become successively closer. This will be NASA’s first space mission to a world likely made largely of metal, rather than rock or ice. The Psyche mission will take a giant step forward in our understanding of this mysterious world. It is possible to imagine, however, that after learning about Psyche from orbit, there may be scientists and engineers interested in proposing a subsequent mission to actually land on the asteroid to explore and sample its surface. Capstone teams are invited to take on that challenge!

Designing to the range of hypothesized surfaces that might be found at Psyche (and keeping in mind other constraints such as its gravity), the team is designing and prototyping a sampling system capable of effectively extracting scientific samples from each of the hypothesized surfaces and, potentially, a single caching system able to cache each type. Hypothesized surfaces may include: mostly flat metallic surface, flat metallic with metal and/or rocky debris, rough/high-relief metallic and/or rocky terrain, high-relief metallic crater walls.

This work was created in partial fulfillment of Northern Arizona University Capstone Course “ME 476C”. The work is a result of the Psyche Student Collaborations component of NASA’s Psyche Mission ( “Psyche: A Journey to a Metal World” [Contract number NNM16AA09C] is part of the NASA Discovery Program mission to solar system targets. Trade names and trademarks of ASU and NASA are used in this work for identification only. Their usage does not constitute an official endorsement, either expressed or implied, by Arizona State University or National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of ASU or NASA.