JPL's NDEAA Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC) Homepage

Principal Investigator: Dr. Yoseph Bar-Cohen, JPL
JPL: Dr. Mircea Badescu, Dr. Xiaoqi Bao, Dr. Zensheu Chang, and Dr. Stewart Sherrit

 

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: drill icon

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Drilling - FIDO

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Sojourner

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: LakeVida_gopher_inthe_hole

This ultrasonic drilling mechanism does not require high axial load

The USDC operated from a FIDO rover robotic arm

The USDC operated from the Sojourner platform (a duplicate of the rover that was on Mars Pathfinder)

In Dec. 2005, a 1.76-m deep drilled borehole in ice was created by the Gopher at Lake Vida, Antarctica

 

This Website describes the ultrasonic/sonic drilling activity of the JPL's Advanced Technology Group and its NDEAA lab. The objective is to develop an ultrasonic/sonic driller/corer (USDC) to enable acquiring samples from various planets or small bodies (e.g., asteroid and comets) using low axial load and low power.  The drill bit not does require sharpening, it can be made to operate at cryogenic and high temperatures, non-round cross section cores can be created and it can be used to probe the ground as well as deliver in-situ sensing down the borehole. The developed drills are driven by piezoelectric actuated percussive mechanisms that require low preload (as low as 10N), and can be operated using low average power.  The drills were demonstrated to penetrate rocks as hard as basalt and in one of the designs it was made as light as 400g. 

 

Ultrasonic and sonic vibrations are responsible for the drilling action. Piezoelectric stack actuator in the upper section excites ultrasonic vibrations that are transformed into sonic hammering action.  The drill bit is forced to go up and down but it does not rotate.  The impact of the bit into the rock performs the drilling. Finite element analytical modeling was developed to maximize the performance of the drill and allow effective design of various configurations. The USDC was demonstrated to operate from a Sojourner size rover as well as from the robotic arm of the FIDO rover.  Drill head were made that weigh .4-kg (1-lb), require axial load at the level of 3-10N and operated by as low as 3-W.  So far the USDC was demonstrate to drill 25-mm (1-inch) deep holes in granite from a 4-kg platform, 15-cm and 15-mm diameter in sandstone. Also, a Gopher version was developed and demonstrated to drill up to 1.76-m deep in ice at Lake Vida, Antarctica.

 

The USDC was selected the NASA/JPL Technology Spotlight for the month of April 2000. Further, USDC was selected by R&D Magazine (in the Sept. 2000 issue, p. 135) as one of the 100 most innovative instruments for the year 2000.

 

Significant improvement of the penetration rate was achieved by augmenting the hammering action by rotation and use of a fluted bit to provide effective cuttings removal.  Generally, hammering is effective in fracturing drilled media while rotation of fluted bits is effective in cuttings removal.  To benefit from these two actions, a novel configuration of a percussive mechanism was developed to produce an augmenter of rotary drills.  A breadboard Percussive Augmenter of Rotary Drills (PARoD) was developed with a 6.4 mm (0.25 inch) diameter bit and was demonstrated to increase the drilling rate of rotation alone by 1.5 to over 10 times. Further, a large PARoD breadboard with 50.8 mm (2 inch) diameter bit was developed and its tests are currently underway.  The PARoD is developed under a contract from the startup company, Placidus, and it is intended to establish a prototype for commercial drills that will be produced and marketed by Placidus. 

 

The California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL for NASA, has granted Placidus an option to the rights to commercialize the technology in the fields of construction, shallow mining, and demolition.

View video reviewing the USDC technology View video reviewing the Ultrasonic Gopher technology (with high speed video)

USDC as JPL's Technology Spotlight JPL's Technology Spotlight, April 2000.


A comparison of the USDC with other techniques

 

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: drilled rock

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: animation

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Using a wire drill bit to drill

 

Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller and Corer (USDC) - information archive

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif Viewgraphs of a presentation on ultrasonic drilling at the Feb. 1998 TRIWG Review

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif Viewgraphs of a presentation to the NASA Mechanisms Working Group, Dec. 15, 1998

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Modeling of Horns for Sonic/Ultrasonic Applications,"
IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, held in Lake Tahoe, CA, 17-20 October 1999, pp. 647-651

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Comparison of the Mason and KLM Equivalent Circuits for Piezoelectric Resonators in the Thickness Mode,"
IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, held in Lake Tahoe, CA, 17-20 October 1999, pp. 621-626

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Ultrasonic/sonic drilling/coring (USDC) for in-situ planetary applications," SPIE Smart Structures 2000, March 2000, Newport Beach, CA, paper 3992-101

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Analyzing the Impedance Resonance of Piezoelectric Stacks," Proceedings of the IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct 22-25, 2000

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC) as a Sampler for Planetary Exploration," Proceedings of the 2001 IEEE Aerospace Conference on the topic of "Missions, Systems, and Instruments for In Situ Sensing" (Session 2.05), Big Sky, Montana, March 10-17, 2001.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Ultrasonic/sonic drilling/coring (USDC) for planetary applications," SPIE Smart Structures 2001, March 2001, Newport Beach, CA, paper 4327-55

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Sample Acquisition and In-Situ Analysis Using the Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC) and Robotic Platforms," The 6th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS-01), Montreal, Canada, June 18-21, 2001

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif"Characterization of Transducers and Resonators under High Drive Levels," IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, Atlanta, GA, Oct. 7-10, 2001

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Novel Horn Designs for Ultrasonic/Sonic Cleaning Welding, Soldering, Cutting and Drilling," Paper 4701-34, Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures and Materials Symposium, San Diego, CA, March 17-19, 2002

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Modeling of particle flow due to ultrasonic drilling," Paper 4701-35, ibid

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Analysis and Simulation of the Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer(USDC)," Paper 4701-36, ibid

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "An Ultrasonic Sampler and Sensor Platform for In-situ Astrobiological Exploration," Paper 5056-55, Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference, San Diego, CA., Mar 2-6. 2003

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "In-situ Rock Probing Using The Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC)," Paper Paper 5056-73, ibid

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Ultrasonic/Sonic Sampler and Sensor Platform for In-situ Planetary Exploration," Proceedings of the ICMEMS Conf. held in Banff, Alberta, Canada, July 20 - July 23, 2003

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Modeling and Computer Simulation of Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC)," IEEE Transaction on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control (UFFC), Vol. 50, No. 9, (Sept. 2003), pp. 1147-1160.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Life detection and characterization of subsurface ice and brine in the Mcmurdo dry valleys using an ultrasonic Gopher," Third Mars Polar Science Conference (2003)

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Definitive mineralogical analysis of Martian rocks and soil using the CHEMIN XRD/XRF instrument and the USDC sampler," Sixth International Conference on Mars (2003)

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Use of an Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer to obtain sample powder for CHEMIN, a combined XRD/XRF instrument," Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIV (2003)

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Piezoelectrics as Multifunctional Electromechanical Materials for Space Applications," JPL's Group 354 Monthly Seminar, September 8, 2003

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Realtime sensing while drilling using the USDC and integrated sensors," Eurosensors XVII Conference, Guimaraes, Portugal, September 21-24, 2003

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Laboratory Detection And Analysis Of Organic Compounds in Rocks Using HPLC and XRD Methods," Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Houston, March 15-19, 2004.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Evaluation of rock powdering methods to obtain fine-grained samples for CHEMIN, a combined XRD/XRF instrument," Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Houston, March 15-19, 2004.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Novel Horn Designs for Power Ultrasonics," IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, UFFC, Montreal, Canada, August 24-27, 2004.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Resonance Analysis of High Temperature Piezoelectric Materials for Actuation and Sensing," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5387-58, Mar 14-18. 2004

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Design and analysis of ultrasonic horn for USDC," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5388-34, Mar 14-18, 2004

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Subsurface Ice and Brine Sampling Using an Ultrasonic/Sonic Gopher for Life Detection ....," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5388-32, Mar 14-18, 2004

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Efficient electromechanical network model for wireless acoustic-electric feed-throughs," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5758-44, Mar 7-10, 2005

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Smart material/actuator needs in extreme space environments," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5761-48, Mar 7-10, 2005

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Integrated modeling of the Ultrasonic/Sonic Drill/Corer (USDC): procedure and analysis results," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5764-37, Mar 7-10, 2005

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Adapting the Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC) for walking/climbing robotic applications," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5762-22, Mar 7-10, 2005

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "Design and analysis of ultrasonic horn for a Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC)," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5762-10, Mar 7-10, 2005

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "The Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC) as a subsurface drill, sampler, and lab-on-a-drill for planetary exploration application," Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures Conference San Diego, CA., SPIE Vol. 5762-21, Mar 7-10, 2005

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif “Subsurface Sampler and Sensors Platform Using the Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC),” Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures and Materials Symposium, SPIE Vol. #6529-18, an Diego, CA, March 19-22, 2007

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gifAuto-Gopher - a wire-line rotary-hammer ultrasonic drill”, Proceedings of SPIE Smart Structures and Materials Conference, San Diego, CA, Vol. 7981, paper# 135, March 2011 

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif“Deep Drilling and Sampling via the Wireline Auto-Gopher Driven by Piezoelectric Percussive Actuator and EM Rotary Motor”, Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures and Materials/NDE Symposium, Paper No. # 8345 – 78, San Diego, CA, March 12-15, 2012                                                                           

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif “Single piezo-actuator rotary-hammering (SPaRH) drill”, Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures and Materials/NDE Symposium, Paper No. # 8345 – 79, San Diego, CA, March 12-15, 2012

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif “High temperature piezoelectric drill”, Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures and Materials/NDE Symposium, Paper No. # 8345 – 81, San Diego, CA, March 12-15, 2012

Drilling, Coring and Sampling Using Piezoelectric Actuated Mechanisms: From the USDC to a Piezo-Rotary-Hammer Drill,” Invited Paper, 2012 Earth and Space, Symposium 2: Exploration and Utilization of Extraterrestrial Bodies, held at Pasadena, CA, April 15-18, 2012.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif Percussive Augmenter of Rotary Drills (PARoD),” Proceedings of the SPIE Smart Structures and Materials/NDE Symposium, Paper No. # 8345 – 121, San Diego, CA, March 12-15, 2012

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif Wireline Deep Drill for Exploration of Mars, Europa, and Enceladus”, 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, March 2-9, 2013.

Patent disclosures related to USDC

1.      Y. Bar-Cohen, S. Sherrit, B. Dolgin, T. Peterson, D. Pal and J. Kroh, “Smart-ultrasonic/sonic driller/corer,” U.S. Patent No. 6,863,136, March 8, 2005.

2.      Y. Bar-Cohen, S. Sherrit, B. Dolgin, X. Bao and S. Askin, “Ultrasonic/Sonic Mechanism of Deep Drilling (USMOD),” U.S. Patent No. 6,968,910, November 29, 2005.

3.      Y. Bar-Cohen, and S. Sherrit, “Self-Mountable and Extractable Ultrasonic/Sonic Anchor,” U.S. Patent No. 7,156,189, January 2, 2007.

Press Release and Media Clipping

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif  "NASA DEVELOPS A DRILL FOR THE FUTURE," NASA Press Release, April 12, 2000

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif "NASA Develops a Drill for the Future," brief NASA Press Release, April 12, 2000

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif  "NASA Develops a Drill for the Future," graphics of the NASA Press Release, April 12, 2000

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/blueball.gif  "Drilling to a better understanding of Mars and the world beyond," EXN Discover Channel, Canada (includes video), April 13, 2000

 

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Last updated – Feb. 29, 2002