DEVELOPMENT OF A CYBER-PHYSICAL TESTBED FOR RESILIENT EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL HABITATS
Establishing permanent and sustainable human settlements outside Earth presents numerous challenges. The Resilient Extra-Terrestrial Habitat Institute (RETHi) has been established to advance the fundamental knowledge needed to enable and design resilient habitats in deep space, that will adapt, absorb, and rapidly recover from expected and unexpected disruptions without fundamental changes in function or sacrifices in safety.
Future extra-terrestrial habitats will rely on several subsystems working synergistically to ensure adequate power supply, life support to crew members, manage extreme environmental conditions, and monitor the health status of the equipment. To study extra-terrestrial habitats, a combination of modeling approaches and experimental validations is necessary, but deep-space conditions cannot be entirely reproduced in a laboratory setting (e.g., micro-gravity effects). To this end, real-time multi-physics cyber-physical testing is a novel approach of simulating and evaluating complex system-of-systems (SoS) that has been applied to investigate the behavior of extra-terrestrial habitats under different scenarios (e.g., meteorite strikes). One of the most critical components which determines the success of the cyber-physical testbed is the transfer system serving as an interface between the physical and cyber substructures.
Through this work, a dedicated thermal transfer system has been designed and constructed to provide realistic thermal boundary conditions to the physical habitat according to the real-time simulation results from cyber substructure of the habitat. The extreme temperatures to be found at the interface between the external protective layer of the habitat (cyber) and the interior structural elements (physical) are emulated by means of a cryogenic chiller and an array of cooled panels that cover a dome-style structure. Moreover, the overall architecture of the cyber-physical testbed, the partitioning of the virtual and physical environments, and interface schemes were also established. The experimental results obtained from the thermal transfer system prototype setup were analyzed and interpreted to generate meaningful recommendations for future development and application of the full-sized testbed.