Arctic / Antarctic

Away Team Update: DLR TRIPLE-IceCraft Expedition To Antarctica – Final System Tests And Completion Of Preparations For Drilling – Part 4

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
DLR
March 16, 2023
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Away Team Update: DLR TRIPLE-IceCraft Expedition To Antarctica – Final System Tests And Completion Of Preparations For Drilling – Part 4
Successful test drilling – view into a four-metre-deep melt hole – Credit: Simon Zierke

Soon it will be time for the big test of our TRIPLE-IceCraft probe, which is to melt its way through the almost 100-metre-thick ice shelf north of Neumayer Station III. But before that, we still have to perform final system checks and make a first test borehole.

The camera system and the Forefield Reconnaissance System (FRS) are now installed, but we are now facing a challenge. Inside the probe, all subsystems are connected to each other via a data bus for communication. Since the beginning of the tests, communication interruptions between the systems in the front module and the systems in the rear module have occurred repeatedly.

We checked all of the connectors and cables in the front module during the installation of the camera module but did not find any faults. And so we must now open the rear module as well. To do this, we first have to close the front module again.

The closed TRIPLE-IceCraft probe hangs in the launching device for the winch system test — Credit: DLR/RWTH Aachen/Dirk Heinen

An initial inspection shows no apparent faults or damage here. We check every connector and every cable. This takes a lot of time because the electronics are highly integrated and arranged to best use the limited space inside the probe.

In order to inspect all components, others must first be removed. However, after a tedious search, we finally found the fault – a defective soldered connection on a power supply module for the communications system. Two soldered contacts between the board and a connector are broken, probably as a result of damage during transport. The solution is clear – we remove the module and replace the connector and the soldered connection.

In addition, we fix the socket to the board and attach another strain relief to the cable. A short test and finally the communications in the probe work stably again. Now everything is reassembled, and the rear module is closed.

Technical drawing of TRIPLE-IceCraft

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