THE LUNAR ROVERS FROM APOLLO TO ARTEMIS

 LUNAR ROVERS FROM APOLLO TO ARTEMIS


THE LUNAR ROVERS FROM APOLLO TO ARTEMIS




When The Apollo Astronauts First Landed On The Moon, They Couldn’t Go Far On Foot. That’s Why The Three Final Missions Were Equipped With Lunar Roving Vehicles Or Moon Buggies, Which Allowed The Astronauts To Cover Much More Ground And Do More Science.


Now That Nasa Is Returning To The Moon By 2024 As Part Of Its Artemis Program, It’s Considering A Fleet Of New Vehicles That Will Help Astronauts Roam Far And Wide Across The Surface Of The Moon. Introduction: Before We Get Into The New Moon Buggies, Let’s Look At The Old Moon Buggies.



Actually, Before We Even Get Into Buggies Of Any Type, I Want To Give A Shoutout To Dutchsteammachine, Who Has Been Upscaling Apollo Footage To 60 Frames A Second Using Machine Learning.


His Videos Look Absolutely Amazing, The Lunar Roving Vehicles Were Battery-powered Cars Designed To Work In The Low-gravity, Vacuum Environment Of The Moon. During Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong And Buzz Aldrin Stuck Close To Their Lander, Never Getting Farther Than About 100 Meters From Home Base And Walking About 1,000 Meters In Total.



Apollo 12 Through Apollo 14 Were Similar, With The Astronauts Using Their Feet To Get Around. Everything Changed With Apollo 15. Inside The Lunar Module’s Quad Bay Was The New Lunar Roving Vehicle. It Was 3.1 Meters Long, With A Wheelbase Of 2.3 Meters, Folded In Half For Transport To The Lunar Surface.



At The Start Of Their Mission, Astronauts David Scott And Jim Irwin Unfolded The 210 Kg Rover, Folded Up The Seats, Mounted A Large Mesh Dish Antenna So They Could Communicate With Earth. Now The Astronauts Had Far More Mobility On The Moon. During The Course Of Apollo 15, The Astronauts Were Able To Drive A Total Of 27.8 Km In Just Over 3 Hours Of Driving Time.



The Lrv In Apollo 16 Went Similar Distances, And In Apollo 17, Astronauts Drove A Total Of 35.9 Km In Over 4 And A Half Hours Of Driving. At One Point, The Astronauts Were 7.6 Kilometers Away From Their Landing Site, Located Inside The Diameter Tycho Crater Landing Site.



The Apollo 17 Astronauts Were Able To Bring Home An Enormous Number Of Samples From Tycho Crater, Helping To Set Its Age At About 100 Million Years Ago. With The Success Of The Lunar Roving Vehicles, Nasa Has Incorporated Plans For Vehicles Into Their Future Lunar Exploration Plans.



In 2006, Engineers With Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab Dusted Off An Older Proposal That Had Been Investigated Back In The Apollo Era, To Develop A Rover That Could Provide Mobility And Life Support For Much Longer Missions Across The Surface Of The Moon. Called The Dual Mode Lunar Roving Vehicle,



This Vehicle Would Be Equipped With Three Radioisotopic Thermoelectric Generators - Or Rtgs - Which Would Allow It To Operate During The Lunar Day, But Also Through The Dark Lunar Night. Like The Lrv, It Would Be Attached To An Existing Lander And Constructed On The Lunar Surface By The Astronauts. Once Constructed, It Would Look Like An Lrv With A Little Trailed Towed Behind It.



The Front Portion Would Contain Seats For The Astronauts And Batteries And The Trailer Portion Would Carry The Rtgs For Power. There Would Also Need To Be Some Shielding To Help Protect The Astronauts From The Radiation Coming From The Rtgs. Once Recharged By The Batteries, The Vehicle Would Allow Astronauts To Drive At Least 5 Hours And Over 40 Kilometers. And Up To 60 Kilometers With A Lower Payload. When The Mission Was Over, The Rover Could Continue To Be Operated Remotely From Space, Or Even From Earth, Continuing To Gather Samples Using Robotic Arms.



Of Course, It Would Be A Much Heavier Vehicle, Weighing Around 900 Kilograms - 4 Times As Much As The Lrv, But It Would Allow Much More Mobility And Ongoing Science, Even After The Human Portion Of The Mission Ended. The Problem With This Rover, Of Course, Is That The Astronauts Are Exposed To The Vacuum Of Space In Their Clumsy Spacesuits While They Zoom Around The Moon.



WHAT ABOUT A SEALED SYSTEM THAT LETS THEM WORK IN A PRESSURIZED ENVIRONMENT? 


In 1992, Engineers Released The Design For A Pressurized Lunar Rover Or Plr. This Would Be A 7m Long, 3m Diameter, 6-wheeled Cylindrical Pressurized Tube That Contained The Astronauts, As Well As A 2-wheeled Trailer For The Power And Cooling System. It Would Have A Total Mass Of 6,197 Kilograms, And Be Able To Roll Across The Lunar Surface At 10 Km/hour - Up To 18 Km/hour In A Sprint.


The Plr Would Give 4 Astronauts Up To 1,000 Kilometers Of Range During A Lunar Day, And 100 Km Range During The Lunar Night. But In An Emergency, It Would Provide Essentially Unlimited Range. The Vehicle Would Be Equipped With An Airlock So Astronauts Could Get In And Out Of The Vehicle To Explore A Region Of Interest. Inside Would Be Cramped, But There’d Be Room For Sleeping, Dining, And Even A Tiny Toilet. Imagine A Camper, On The Moon.



This Is 2020, Nasa Is Going To Be Sending Astronauts Back To The Moon In Just 4 Years. Do They Get A Car? Are They Going To Have To Walk? I’ll Talk About Artemis Lunar Rover Plans In A Second, But First I’d Like To Thank: David Mcfadden Tom Bock Howard Macaulay Craig Landon David Reynolds Jana Danielson And The Rest Of Our 860 Patrons For Their Generous Support.



Nasa Is Thinking Of A Rover Concept As Part Of Artemis. Not For The First Mission, But As Astronauts Make Multiple Missions To The Moon, They’ll Eventually Bring Along Some Wheels. Modern Lunar Rover Plans Began With The Constellation Program, Announced By George W. Bush, And The Development Of The Space Exploration Vehicle. This Was A Multi-purpose Pressurized Cabin That Astronauts Could Use To Explore Almost Any Environment, From The Surface Of Worlds Like The Moon Or Mars To Microgravity Environments Like Asteroids.



The Ground Version Would Have A Pressurized Cabin Mounted On Six Wheels, Which Would Allow It To Turn 360-degrees In Place. Astronauts Would Be Able To Kneel At The Front Of The Vehicle, To Get Up Nice And Close To A Rock Or Region That They Want To Study. Each Wheel Would Move Independently And Be Able To Move Around Like A Crab, So The Rover Could Climb Up Pretty Complicated Terrain.



The Astronaut Spacesuits Would Be Attached To The Back Of The Rover, Allowing Them To Climb In And Out To Go On Extravehicular Activities. This Also Makes Sure That The Gritty Lunar Regolith Never Gets Inside The Cabin. This Design Was Adapted More Recently To Become The Lunar Electric Rover, With A Final Length Of 4.5 Meters And A Weight Of 3,000 Kilograms. It Would Have A Crew Of Two But Could Hold Four In An Emergency.



It Would Be Able To Drive About 10 Km/h, Giving Astronauts About 200 Km Of Range In Any Direction From The Landing Site. There’s The Lower 6-wheeled Mobility Unit And Then Upper Pressurized Cabin Module. These Could Be Delivered Pre-assembled, Or They Could Be Separate, Allowing The Astronauts To Drive On The Mobility Unit Unpressurized.



They Could Reconfigure It Based On The Mission’s Needs. Unlike Some Of The Previous Designs, The Ler Would Be Battery-powered, Taking Advantage Of Newer Denser Battery Storage, Recharging Itself Back At Basecamp. Unfortunately, Plans To Actually Develop The Ler Have Stalled, And There Are No Plans To Incorporate It Into Artemis. In Early 2020, Nasa Put Out A Call For Fresh Lunar Rover Ideas. They Asked Industry Partners To Propose Rovers That Weighed Less Than 500 Kgs And Could Carry 2 Space-suited Around On The Moon.



When You Look At The Concept Art, We’ve Kind Of Returned Back To The Original Lunar Roving Vehicle, Updated With A Roll Cage And A Sweet Light Bar. I Know, I Know, Every Idea Was Already Thought Of Back In The 1960s. But After A Few Missions, Pressurized Lunar Rovers Will Arrive. And There’s Good News,



Nasa Has Brought In Some Help To Get Them Built. In July 2009, Nasa Signed A Letter Of Intent With Japan To Collaborate On The Upcoming Artemis Program. The Pressurized Artemis Rover Could Get Built By Toyota. Their Rover Is 6 Meters Long, 5.2 Meters Wide, And Capable Of Accommodating Two People (Again, 4 In An Emergency).



I Honestly, I Think It Looks Awesome. Now, This Is What Space Trucks Should Look Like. The Lunar Rover Vehicle Was One Of The Coolest Parts Of The Original Apollo Mission And These 60 Fps Video Versions From Dutchsteammachine Are As Close As You Can Get To Being There.


I Can't-Wait To See The New Videos With Modern Camera Systems From Astronauts Tearing Around On The Surface Of The Moon. What Do You Think? Let Me Know Your Thoughts In The Blog Comments.






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