Space Enabled experiments join attempted commercial landing on the moon with iSpace & UAE




Space Enabled is part of a group of research teams that sent experiments aiming to study the moon. Team Space Enabled was invited to participate in the mission by the space program of the United Arab Emirates.  The UAE's Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) led the Rashid rover as part of the lunar mission. The rover was carried on a journey to the moon by the company iSpace from Japan inside a lander system called Hakuto-R. iSpace created the Hakuto-R lander mission that sought to be the first commercially led lander to land safely on the moon. The mission was launched from the U.S. by SpaceX. 

The mission ended early as the iSpace Hakuto-R lander experienced anomalies during the attempt to land on the moon and did successfully complete a safe landing. More information about mission and attempted landing is shared from iSpace here and from the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Center here. Team Space Enabled expresses gratitude to be a part of the mission. We congratulation iSpace, MBRSC, and all the other engineers and scientists who contributed to the lunar mission. 

The Space Enabled payloads include two Passive Regolith Samplers that were designed to collect dust while sitting on the wheel of the rover, as well as a Passive Wax Thermometer that uses the melting point of wax to indicate the temperature on the wheel of the rover.  The abstract for a 2022 Conference Paper at the International Astronautical Congress on the project is shared below:

 Actors from more countries are participating in lunar exploration and technology development. One of the areas for lunar operations that needs additional research is the management of lunar regolith and the related dust. The Space Enabled Research Group invented the Passive Regolith Sampler (PRS), which can be used in a variety of commercial and scientific missions to facilitate characterization of the lunar regolith environment. The device is used in the investigation described herein to better understand the effectiveness of a simple mechanical design in passively gathering lunar regolith which comes into contact with rover wheels. The design uses an aluminum tray with holes drilled into the top cover at a spacing and size that is expected to allow regolith to enter. The tray is attached to the rover wheel and is pressed into the regolith as the rover travels. An additional approach pursued by the Space Enabled team is the use of several types of wax that each have different melting points build a passive thermometer that reveals the temperature by visualization of the change in wax color. The PRS can be attached to the outer circumference of a rover wheel in a manner that does not interfere with mobility and can be modified for the environmental conditions of its host rover. For the wax thermometer, the paraffin hydrocarbon chain length can be lengthened or shortened to adjust the melting temperature of the wax and maximize the efficacy of the device. In late 2020, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of Dubai announced plans to send the Rashid rover to the lunar surface in 2022/23 as part of the Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM) The Space Enabled Research Group will send the first version of a Passive Regolith Sampler as a hosted payload on the UAE Rashid Rover. MBRSC has provided rover wheel models and a ground testing environment which will enable higher fidelity testing. This paper will discuss the design of the Passive Regolith Sample and wax thermometer. The work shows methods for fabrication and laboratory-based testing. The tests use lunar regolith simulant to model the particle size distribution of true lunar regolith, as well as other material properties. The initial goal is to understand the impact that hole size and spacing have on regolith retention. The Space Enabled team also tests a prototype rover wheel in a reduced gravity plane flight to consider the use of the Passive Regolith Sampler in Lunar Gravity. 

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