Monday, June 17, 2024

Why do we lose vehicles on the moon and how do we recover them? | Science


Various space agencies periodically send “robots” and robotic vehicles to explore the Moon, planets, and other celestial bodies to improve our understanding of the environment and resources in various parts of the Solar System.

Recently, researchers from the University of Toronto’s Institute for Space Studies and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory conducted a study to explore strategies that could improve the efficiency and success of lunar exploration using solar-powered vehicles.

Their paper, published on the Archives website – which is designed for the temporary publication of scientific research – presents a new approach to enable solar-powered vehicles to safely exit permanently shadowed areas on the Moon.

Risky bidding

“In recent years, many countries have shown interest in exploring the South Pole of the Moon, including the United States, China, India, Russia and others,” Oliver Lamar, the researcher who led the study, told

Solar-powered rovers can have many advantages in terms of energy efficiency, although they are limited by their dependence on sunlight to operate. Some areas of the Moon are permanently in shadow, and the rover’s dependence on sunlight could prevent them from exploring these areas and leaving safely as they run out of energy during their mission.

The last of those vehicles that tried to land on the south pole of the moon – which is the side of the moon that is always shadowed – was the Russian spacecraft “Luna 25”, which crashed on August 20, already on its way. The land, and the vehicle exposed may be the same.

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Therefore, Lamarre et al. The main goal of the latest work is to calculate the probability that solar-powered vehicles will be lost while exploring these shadowy regions of the Moon. Additionally, the team wanted to come up with an approach that would help solar vehicles complete their missions safely.

Refund Policy

Lamar explained that we first need to define what it means for a solar-powered rover to be safe at the moon’s south pole, and to do that, we need to determine where and at what time the rover is in the lunar shadow region. Its mission, and how much power is left in its batteries.

It indicates the status of the vehicle and whether or not it will enter hibernation before its next task. Then, the rover is programmed online for steps it can take to get the situation it is in, to increase its chance of action.

The planning method outlined by Lamarre and colleagues is known as the recovery policy, which is essentially a backup strategy that allows the vehicle to maximize its chances of getting “safe,” reaching areas of sunlight and thereby recharging its battery. Calculating this refund policy is challenging, the researchers show in their paper. Because it requires many approximations, which, if incorrect, can affect the reliability of the overall predictions.

At the Moon’s south pole, sunlight is most powerful; Where nearby mountains and craters can cast large shadows on the surface, if the rover is slightly behind schedule than the hard policy, it could miss an important solar charging period. The same is true if they are slightly ahead of schedule than policy assumes.

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Benefits of Refund Policy

The proposed approach benefits researchers in several ways. Because it’s a step toward having long-range mission planning mechanisms that anticipate risks for solar-powered rovers.

Additionally, this approach will become a useful tool for human operators as they develop new lunar South Pole rover missions, where it can be used to select a landing site, plan and predict hazards, and more, or to support ongoing missions. Earth.

The approach was tested using orbital data from a lunar crater, and the team used NASA’s sunlight maps to then apply their technology to several regions at the lunar south pole. Long-range navigation algorithms for hazard prediction. To explore the lunar south pole using solar powered vehicles.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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