Exploration and design of the logistics and hardware for accomplishment of geosciences on the moon
Paper in proceedings, 2010
In the pursuit of defining the next generation of manned lunar explorations, NASA is working with the development of a new infrastructure that will allow prolonged stays on the lunar surface. A key science activity during these missions will be the collection and analysis of lunar rocks. Currently, NASA is building habitat mock-ups for the Moon to attempt and test the best living and working conditions. While incorporating a focus on living quarters and hygiene areas, the needs of workshops and laboratories have only been briefly addressed as yet. The purpose of this project was to explore the possibilities for geosciences on the Moon and to set the stage for the integration of a geosciences module in a lunar habitat mock-up. The challenge was to develop a tenable systems concept view on how lunar geosciences will be conducted during longer stays on the Moon and how the related logistics chains should be. In the second instance, the appropriate lunar geosciences hardware was designed, taking into account the needs of the geologists as well as the constraints of the lunar environment and the exploration conditions. The first part of the research consisted of a broad investigation of the prospective processing of geosciences on the Moon in terms of the whole chain from identification of the samples, selection, protection, labelling, transportation, storage, examination to deliverance back to Earth. Information has been gathered through literature reviews, study visits and user interviews. On that base, three concept solutions were presented: The first is a glove box to be placed inside of the lunar habitat or a pressurised vehicle. This glove box is equipped with an analytical instrument as a combination of a camera, microscope and Raman spectroscope. Samples are brought into the glove box via a specially developed transfer container, which easily connects to the glove box. The second concept consists of a semi-automatic robot that is placed outside of the habitat. By scanning the collected samples it can create virtual representations to be reviewed by a geologist on a touch based computer screen inside the habitat. If the geologist finds a sample particularly interesting, requests of further analytical procedures could be sent to the robot. The third concept consists of a bag for storing rock samples. The aim with this sample bag is to protect and organise the collected samples.