GAMMA is a Runner Up in the Strategy & Research category and Notable Transportation Award winner in the 2019 Core77 Design Awards. The 2020 Core77 Design Awards will be launching in just over a month on January 7th! Stay tuned for more details.
In the 1960s, computer technologies helped shepherd space programs through new thresholds and across new, extraterrestrial frontiers. Today, technologies like generative design are offering novel support to these programs and their scientists, creating exciting possibilities in space exploration.
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GAMMA, a concept space exploration lander, was designed using generative design technology, which is an AI-based approach that generates design solutions according to goals and constraints set by designers. GAMMA shows for the first time how these technologies can be applied to complex challenges presented by 350 million mile-outer space journeys, not to mention the atmospheres of their destinations.
“Landers perform complicated functions in temperatures far below zero and withstand radiation levels thousands of times greater than on Earth,” say the teams at Autodesk (a design software company) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, the collaborators on GAMMA. They found that reducing mass was one of the most critical challenges to creating more operative landers. Every kilogram that can be cut, they realized, yields mass reduction and in turn translates to an exponential reduction in the fuel needed. As a solution – and made exclusively possible through the advanced manufacturing process – the landers utilize a unique, optimized hollow design. With this structure, the team was able to shed a whopping 35% of the mass of the lander’s main structural component.
GAMMA was designed with the future in mind, in more ways than one: The “components of the lander are co-optimized as an assembly to enable design modularity and different manufacturing processes to be used for different feature scales,” say the design teams. It wasn’t easy to get there, though. It took over 300 design iterations and 100 days of computation time, using both conventional and advanced manufacturing, to fabricate the physical lander’s final design.
GAMMA is the most complex generative design to date. Its structure is able to support approximately ten times its weight (a 10:1 ratio), exceeding the 5:1 ratio commonly found in conventional high performance components; and by necessity, it meets some of the most rigorous engineering standards in order to support one of the grandest end goals we pursue today – the discovery of life beyond earth.
The 2020 Core77 Design Awards will be launching in just over a month on January 7th! Sign up for our newsletter on the Core77 homepage to stay up to date on awards deadlines.