Analogues for Preparing Robotic and Human Exploration on the Moon – Needs and Concepts
2014 – projected July 2015
ESA – EAC (European Astronaut Centre)
Space Applications Services N.V., Belgium; COMEX S.A., France; LIQUIFER Systems Group GmbH, Austria
Susmita Mohanty, Barbara Imhof, Molly Hogle
In view of lunar exploration, which is foreseen to be one of the next steps in human space exploration, lunar analogues are and will continue to be powerful tools to support the development, demonstration and validation of new technologies and operational concepts. Furthermore lunar analogues will serve as training environment for astronauts and will engage the public with interesting and exciting mission simulations well before actual missions take place. Besides the obvious advantages of the Natural Lunar Analogues, i.e. terrain, soil and harsh environment (dust, temperature, psychological effects, etc.) are representative for the lunar environment and do not need to be artificially recreated, there is the ‘logistics disadvantage’ of Natural Lunar Analogues.
Carrying out tests, demonstrations or training in Natural Lunar Analogues comes with a big effort and cost simply to go and deploy the people and the technology on the often remote analogue site. Furthermore a lot of practicalities need to be taken into account for these remote outdoor sites, e.g. provision of electricity and telecommunications capability, weather factors and deployment of temporary infrastructures (e.g. tents), and depending on location also visa and custom procedures, which will lead to increased costs and potential delays of the test/training campaign.
Therefore, there is a growing interest in Artificial Lunar Analogues in order to avoid the ‘logistics disadvantage’ of the Natural Lunar Analogues.
The purpose of the study about Artificial Lunar Analogues is threefold:
1) To identify gaps in lunar analogue capacity (in Europe and worldwide) with respect to the demands for such analogues in reference to current exploration roadmaps.
2) To identify means to close these gaps, considering both opportunities to exploit synergies with existing relevant lunar analogue facilities and the establishment of new lunar analogues.
3) To draft technical, utilisation and implementation concepts for the most needed lunar analogue(s), selected in agreement with the Customer.
rendering credit: René Waclavciek/LIQUIFER Systems Group 2015
thunbnail: image courtesy of NASA