NASA Proposes Robotic Pallet Lander Concept For Cheaper Moon Missions

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Lunar missions are getting even more exciting as space researchers discover more data about Earth's natural satellite. Now, NASA is thinking of creating an enduring presence on the Moon and researchers are trying to make multiple landings cheap and reliable. The researchers have come up with a robotic pallet lander as a simple solution.

NASA Proposes Robotic Pallet Lander Concept

 

NASA Robotic Pallet Lander: What Is It?

The new pallet lander concept is a simple method chalked up by researchers, which involves 300 kgs of rover and payload landing on the Moon. The details were published by NASA in a technical paper, which showcases a strong, basic framework for the robotic pallet lander. However, it is still in the concept stage right now.

If everything goes according to plan, the Moon pallet lander would be launched on a commercial spacecraft like the Falcon 9 rocket. The technical paper explains that the spacecraft would release the pallet and the rover payload into a trans-lunar injection trajectory. A few days later, the space pallet would conduct the necessary landing maneuvers, which include attitude control, landing site selection, braking, and a soft touchdown.

The touchdown would take place facing the sunlight. Once landed, the pallet rover would find its way exploring the lunar landscape. The lander would be designed to capture surface images and highlight the landscape for the team back on the Earth. The rover would shut down after eight hours of exploring the lunar surface.

NASA Robotic Pallet Lander: Challenges

The lander is, unfortunately, not designed to last a lunar night, the researchers say. This is why the robotic pallet lander will shut down early. One of the main objectives of the lander is to make it cheap and affordable; having to provide power and heating infrastructure would be a costly affair.

"As robotic lunar landers grow to accommodate larger payloads, simple but high-performing landers with a contiguous payload volume will be needed," says Logan Kennedy, the project's lead systems engineer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "This concept was developed by a diverse team of people over many years and meets that need."

 

At the same time, the researchers are also thinking of equipping a low-key, self-sustaining science experiment or hardware. The idea is to use it on other experiments or hardware, as a passive beacon for navigation or an intermittent seismic sensor for meteorite detection.

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