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Lunar Lander Test Rig | by jurvetson
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Lunar Lander Test Rig

A quad ‘copter from Chris Anderson, with Go-Pro underbody gimbal and a sensor array for landing that is so very clever in the repurposing of consumer hardware to replace expensive and heavy radar units like they used on Apollo. A great way to test the control algorithms for automated landing. Like Apollo, the landing would occur at lunar daybreak (maximum shadows for surface feature contrast, and a 14 day window of solar flux).

 

The tech challenge I am working on is how to survive the 14 day lunar night at -150°C. Batteries freeze rather destructively. The only Apollo instruments to survive the night had nuclear batteries (like Curiosity). I am thinking Solar Junction solar cells, Everspin rad-hard/soft-error-immune MRAM, and a super cap or maybe LiIon electrolyte from eSionic which might survive the temp cycling. Or perhaps a Solicore solid electrolyte from ORNL. Has anyone tested the other elements (processor, PCB interconnect) through those extreme temp cycles?

 

Part of a very fun update tour of Moon Express at NASA Ames today. Oh, and there is a very cool design element whereby they use an optical mouse sensor instead of a landing radar (see below).

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Taken on December 18, 2012