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RaCER – Rover Speed Characterization for Lunar Exploration vol. 2

RaCER – Rover Speed Characterization for Lunar Exploration vol. 2

We are glad to inform that PIAP Space in cooperation with ŁUKASIEWICZ – PIAP Institute and TRASYS International have successfully accomplished RaCER field test campaign. Test campaign carried out in April 2019 was the second campaign realized within the RaCER project.

The main objective of the RaCER project is to determine the realistically achievable maximum speed of the rover for lunar exploration through a number of controlled tests carried out in a lunar analogue environment. “The RaCER test campaigns results will be one of the key elements during establishing future HERACLES (Human Enabled Robotic Architecture and Capability for Lunar Exploration and Science) missions”, said Mateusz Wolski, CEO at PIAP Space.

HERACLES is a programme to establish an international cargo landing capability, which will be initiated by a demonstration mission including long-range mobility and sample return from the Moon based on the human-robotic partnership, planned for the mid – 2020s. The key concept of those missions is the utilization of a teleoperated lunar rover controlled by astronauts from the lunar Gateway and from a Ground Control Station. The RaCER project is strictly connected with the rover surface missions and surface operations.

In addition to determining the maximum speed of the rover in lunar environment, the scope of the second RaCER campaign was to validate the results of the first campaign, to perform field tests that require manipulator and to test different control methods from Ground Station and Lunar Orbit.

Just like a year ago, the test campaign was carried out in the Southern Poland located quarry. To meet the objectives of the project, the test site was set up in a way to simulate lunar environment: it had craters, hills and lots of rocks. “The test site was split into two parts: the first one for exploration tests and the second one for traverse tests. We created the test site, which covers most types of lunar terrain. Created test site looked amazing. Real Moon on the Earth!” – said Przemysław Pustułka, Project Manager at PIAP Space.

To enable effective development of the reliable mission timelines in case of traverse, exploration or manipulation during real lunar mission, it is crucial to know the practical maximum achievable rover speed in various environmental and operational conditions. “I am sure that RaCER campaigns are reliable training ground for developing timelines for various lunar rover activities during future HERACLES missions” – said Marlena Gołofit, Head of Project Management Office at PIAP Space.

Work described here was done under European Space Agency Contract No. 4000121255/17/NL/CBi.

Figure 1 Rover PIAP IBIS ® during traverse.

Photo: Sławomir Puchalski, Sieć Badawcza Łukasiewicz – Przemysłowy Instytut Automatyki i Pomiarów PIAP

Figure 2 Rover PIAP IBIS ® during traverse.

Photo: Sławomir Puchalski, Sieć Badawcza Łukasiewicz – Przemysłowy Instytut Automatyki i Pomiarów PIAP

Figure 3 PIAP IBIS ® on the traverse part of the Test Site – drone view.

Figure 4 Test Site – drone view.