Caltech Space Challenge
Operational Issues in Lunar Polar Resource Exploration
NASA's Resource Prospector (RP), planned for a 2022 launch, will explore a polar region of the Moon in search of volatiles. To locate, characterize and analyze volatiles, the mission includes a rover for mobility, prospecting instruments to locate and characterize volatiles, a drill to collect regolith samples, and an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) payload for analysis. The lunar polar regions are a unique operational environment. Temperatures are among the coldest in the Solar System. The likely volatile rich areas are in permanently shadowed regions (PSR). The regolith characteristics of PSR's are not well understood, posing issues for rover design and driving. Any extended operations in a PSR requires a non-solar power system, and/or power storage. The proximity of the Earth to the Moon allows for moving computational power to the ground for some operations, though communications systems may impose data rate limits.
For more information visit: http://www.spacechallenge.caltech.edu/public-lectures