Tesserae

TESSERAE functions as multi-use, low-cost orbiting modules, that supply a critical space infrastructure for the next generation of zero gravity habitats, science labs, staging areas for on-surface exploration, and more. Multiple, interlocking TESSERAE can serve as a larger volume orbiting base (e.g. "MOSAIC": Mars Orbiting Self-Assembling Interlocking Chambers), in addition to supporting the coming waves of space tourists and space hotels in Low Earth Orbit. Each TESSERAE (Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments) structure is made from a set of tiles. These tiles are tuned to self-assemble into a particular geometry. In this case a buckminsterfullerene (20 hexagonal tiles, 12 pentagonal tiles).

Specifications

Tile side length1.52 m
Interior volume196 m3
Interior open diamete8.7 m

Overview

Unlike large-scale habitats proposed for entire space colonies, the TESSERAE should be thought of as flexible and reconfigurable modules to aid in agile mission operations. This mission concept focuses on supporting LEO, Lunar and Mars operations, with dual-use orbit & surface capability: 

  • Tiles are packed flat and condensed for launch
  • Tiles are released after orbit insertion to quasi-stochastically self-assemble into the target geometry, while floating in microgravity
  • Once assembled, the structure can be reconfigured on demand (e.g., where a berthing port was needed yesterday, a cupola tile can be replaced tomorrow)
  • Tiles can be disassembled entirely, packed flat again in an EDL (Entry, Descent and Landing) vehicle, and then deployed and "snap-assembled" with astronaut assists on the lunar or martian surface

Multiple, interlocking TESSERAE can serve as a larger volume orbiting base (e.g.  "MOSAIC": Mars Orbiting Self-Assembling Interlocking Chambers), in addition to supporting the coming waves of space tourists and space hotels in Low Earth Orbit. 

Each TESSERAE (Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments) structure is made from a set of tiles. These tiles are tuned to self-assemble into a particular geometry. In this case a buckminsterfullerene (20 hexagonal tiles, 12 pentagonal tiles).  

Each tile at minimum includes  a rigid outer shell, responsive sensing for bonding diagnosis, electro-permanent magnets for dynamically controllable bonding actuation, and an on-board power harvesting and power management system. Habitat-scale TESSERAE tiles will also including clamping and sealing for pressurization.  Tiles are released in microgravity testing environments to quasi-stochastically self assemble. 

The “TESSERAE” name and multi-tile structure hearken to the small, colored tiles used in Roman mosaics, where many standard pieces, or “tesserae,” interlock to form a larger creation. 

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References

Describes the technical system design and the mission architecture design. Goes into the mission feasibility review and the conclusion.

Ariel Ekblaw, Joseph Paradiso. 2019

Describes the system design and mission operation. Goes into the self assembly & space architecture & preliminary results: modelling microgravity deployments.

Ariel Ekblaw, Joseph Paradiso. 2019

Describes the system design, and the deployment at scale, in orbit. Describes preliminary tests, and the conclusion.

Ariel Ekblaw, Joseph Paradiso. 2018

Describes the background of the technology, system design, sensor node design, communication architecture, the preliminary results and deployment approach. Finally the conclusion of the project and future work.

Ariel Ekblaw, Joseph Paradiso. 2018 (Paywall)

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