The problems of efficiently exploring the lunar surface and enabling a crew to increase the science reward are multi-faceted and considerable. One way to cover a larger area to do more thorough research, land surveying and geological mapping of the lunar surface is to rove the surface with the habitat and laboratory together. This method of exploring vast areas has a higher probability of finding valuable locations for scientific research and higher science reward than the proposed Apollo like missions that are currently in NASA’s vision/pipeline for exploring the Moon once again. The area that can be explored is limited by the time the astronauts can do hands-on science and research, current and proposed EVA time is up to 8 hours. Limiting factors are the human physique - EVA is very hard work - and the EVA suits and technology proposed for future use. They allow for an activity radius around the habitat/mobile that ensures a safe return of the astronauts. Safety is of maximum importance since fatalities would result in mission failure. A serious injury would compromise the mission; even an on-location treatment or stabilisation of an injured astronaut would greatly reduce the efficiency of the mission.
A lot is unknown about the Moon; to have an evolving mission that results in new insights means the crew must operate with a high degree of autonomy and suitable tolerance to allow for improvisation. Such a habitat/mobile needs sufficient space that permits improvisation and a mission schedule that warrants maximum autonomy.
My master project investigates and proposes a mobile lunar laboratory that will rove the surface of the moon for 30 +-3 days per crew rotation. The design addresses known problems and risks of lunar exploration, some of which are: hostile environment, reliability of technology, mission objectives and the human factor – the astronauts - that rely on life sustaining factors in a controlled environment. The final concept was presented as an interior of a pressurised lunar rover for a crew of four. The way I presented it was as computer generated 3D-data and -visualisations. The programs used are AutoStudio™ and Maya® Unlimited™ from Alias® and Poser from e-frontier.
MA degree project 2006