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LUNA

Analogues for Preparing Robotic and Human Exploration on the Moon – Needs and Concepts

Date
2014 – 2015

Client
ESA – EAC (European Astronaut Centre)

Consortium
Space Applications Services N.V., Belgium; COMEX S.A., France; LIQUIFER Systems Group GmbH, Austria

LSG Team
Susmita Mohanty, Barbara Imhof, Molly Hogle

 

Abstract

Executive Summary download

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 environments for astronauts, and will engage the public with interesting and exciting mission simulations well before actual missions take place.

Natural Lunar Analogues are testing environments that exhibit similar characteristics to the actual conditions on the lunar surface, i.e. terrain, soil, dust, and extreme temperatures. They are representative of the lunar environment and do not need to be artificially recreated. There are ‘logistics disadvantages’ of Natural Lunar Analogues however, which demand that all pertinent personnel and technologies are transported to the remote analogue site, are associated with enormous cost.

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 Artificial Lunar Analogues study 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.

LUNA_Overview

rendering credit: René Waclavciek/LIQUIFER Systems Group 2015

thunbnail: image courtesy of NASA