This chamber will simulate the traverse terrain that the SAM rover will experience on Mars.

The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) experiment suite for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover mission is being developed for NASA. Its development will require a thermal and pressure controlled vacuum chamber that will be used to simulate the environment that SAM will encounter on the surface of Mars inside the MSL rover. SAM will be largely contained within the MSL Warm Electronics Box (WEB) with gas and solid sample inlets and a gas outlet penetrating through the walls of the WEB. The requirements for the chamber that will simulate both the temperature and pressure environment to be encountered by SAM both day and night over a Mars year are given below.

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Vacuum Chamber

The Vacuum Chamber body consists of the following:

  • Inside Dimensions: 36″ wide x 36″ deep x 36″ high
  • Material: Electropolished Stainless Steel 304
  • Door Material: Electropolished Stainless Steel 304, mounted on front side, hinged on right, two door clamps on left side
  • Door Seals: Viton O-Ring

The chamber is designed and tested to reach an ultimate pressure of 10^-7 Torr at room temperature after Bakeout. Measurement of the pressure inside the chamber is achieved through a Terranova® Model 990 Controller with Inficon BPG-400 Wide-Range Sensor, 13 Decade Auto-Ranging Vacuum Measurement with a Single Port. The Terranova 990 controller provides two pressure set points with relay outputs. Both set points have independent High and Low settings to allow the user to set the hysteresis of the set point operation. As the system is pumped down, the set point relay will be energized (set point turns on) as the pressure drops below Set Point Low. The relay will remain energized until the pressure rises above Set Point High.

This photo shows the protective insulation that we apply when a chamber has the bake out addition.
This is a detailed view of the numerous Watlow controllers and limits the system has

To facilitate bakeout of the chamber to +200C, heating elements are attached to the external walls of chamber. An insulation blanket is used over these elements to improve thermal efficiency and safety. These external heating elements are controlled with Watlow SD Series PID Temperature controllers mounted in the Vacuum System Control Panel.(Shown above).

Mounted internal to the chamber are the SAM Thermal Plates and Shroud Panels used to make up the 6 SAM Thermal Plate Zones. Each thermal plate corresponds to a temperature control group used to emulate the various temperature profiles experienced by the SAM’s surfaces when mounted in the WEB of the MSL. A cold gas manifold and solenoid valves are used to supply the SAM thermal plates with Gaseous Nitrogen for cooling from a Liquid Nitrogen Dewars. Electrical heater loops are embedded in/on each SAM Thermal Plate and Shroud Panel.


Check out how Abbess is leading the charge in planetary body exploration!

  • Regolith Thermal Vacuum System
    • Our Thermal Vacuum chambers are capable of being designed and manufactured to test lunar stimulants specifically Regolith.

To get an accurate quote for the system you need fill out our RFQ or call today!