Integrated Sensing and Earthmoving Vehicle for Lunar Landing Pad Construction

12/31/2019 ∙ by Volker Nannen, et al. ∙ 0

Reducing the forces necessary to construct projects like landing pads and blast walls is possibly one of the major drivers in reducing the costs of establishing lunar settlements. The interlock drive system generates traction by penetrating articulated spikes into the ground and by using the natural strength of the ground for traction. The spikes develop a high pull to weight ratio and promise good mobility in soft, rocky and steep terrain, energy-efficient operation, and their design is relatively simple. By penetrating the ground at regular intervals, the spikes also enable the in-situ measurement of a variety of ground properties, including penetration resistance, temperature, and pH. Here we present a concept for a light lunar bulldozer with interlocking spikes that uses a blade and a ripper to loosen and move soil over short distances, that maps ground properties in situ and that uses this information to construct landing pads and blast walls, and to otherwise interact with the ground in a targeted and efficient manner. Trials on Mediterranean soil have shown that this concept promises to satisfy many of the basic requirements expected of a lunar excavator. To better predict performance in a lunar or Martian environment, experiments on relevant soil simulants are needed.

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