The PlanetVac, under development with support from The Planetary Society, is a planetary sampling approach that minimizes complexity and mass for surface sample acquisition. Pneumatic tubes are embedded inside each leg of a lander; a puff of gas injected at the base of the tubes lifts regolith into a sampling chamber onboard, or an ascent vehicle. This technique can lift 5,000 grams of soil with only 1 gram of gas. Initially designed for a Mars sample return mission, it is also ideal for asteroid sample return missions.
The PlanetVac design is a simple, lightweight approach that includes minimal moving pieces, reducing the risk of equipment malfunction in dusty areas where traditional lubricants do not function. Several collection tubes can be integrated into a typical lander, providing system redundancy and greater reliability. It is ideal for a variety of sample return missions: the pneumatic system can collect surface-level soil, debris or regolith from a variety of celestial bodies.
WATCH THE VIDEO