Project

Capturing the Moon

Copyright

Operations in Lunar Environments

yevgeny koramblyum

By Cody Paige & M. Regina A. Moreno

By Cody Paige & M. Regina A. Moreno

The RESOURCE (Resource Exploration and Science of our Cosmic Environment) team in the Human System Lab at MIT is examining different types of depth-data acquisition techniques to integrate depth-mapping into a virtual reality (VR) platform for lunar rover exploration missions. Through analogue testing we have determined that LiDAR combined with RGB (color) imagery can provide the most comprehensive mapping while minimizing bandwidth. Using an off-the-shelf camera, the Microsoft Azure Kinect, we will be able to quickly adapt the hardware for near-term lunar missions.  Lunar dust is one of the primary challenges of returning to the lunar surface. It is ‘very abrasive, highly cohesive, [and impairs] optical instrumentation’ (Johansen, 2020). Flight-readiness assessments of the COTS part for a Lunar rover exploration mission are needed to determine the capabilities of the LiDAR data collection capabilities with dust interference, or veiling (Liebe et al., 2004). Here we plan to reduce the risk of a future commercial lunar payload service (CLPS) mission with a COTS LiDAR camera by testing its capabilities in the presence of dust.

The Microsoft Azure Kinect time-of-flight depth-camera with integrated RGB imagery will be mounted in a sealed glove box and controlled using a laptop (external to the glovebox).  The camera will record for the duration of the experiment parabolas focused on a 3D printed wall mounted to the opposite side of the glove box.  A wheel will be activated to disturb lunar simulant within the glovebox and the recording will be used to assess the visibility loss with lunar regolith in its viewpath.

Additionally, the Space Enabled Research Group shall test their Passive Regolith Collector invention. The device looks to passively collect lunar regolith. This device shall use the rover wheel’s movement to collect regolith. For this flight, the main goal is to see how much dust is collected under lunar gravity. 

The dust kickup dynamics of the wheel in microgravity shall similarly be studied. This will be done by creating a laser wall to visualize a single slice of the 3D space. A video will allow for a particle image velocimetry (PIV) to best characterize paths and velocity of the particles.  

Lastly, as part of an outreach program being conducted with the Cambridge Public School (CPS) board, a passive, shoebox size experiment designed by CPS grade 7 students will be included in the aircraft storage box.  The experiment will be used to demonstrate the effects of micro and hypergravity.  Although the experiment is still currently being designed by the students, it will be passive, and if there is any liquid it will be doubly contained. We will not have any batteries or electrical requirements and will not use any hazardous materials.


Copyright

Steve Boxall/ZERO-G

Copyright

Steve Boxall/ZERO-G

References:

Liebe, C. C., Scherr, L. M. and Wilson, R. G. “Sun-induced veiling glare in dusty camera optics”. Optical Engineering 43(2), February, 2004. https://doi.org/10.1117/1.1635835

Johansen, M. R., “NASA Dust Mitigation Strategy”. The Impacts of Lunar Dust on Human Exploration, Plenary Address, February, 2020.

Copyright

Space Enabled