As part of the European Space Agency’s larger study of lunar cave mission concepts, a German-led team is proposing the use of a spherical probe that would be inserted into a lunar crater before parting e from his tent and inspect it independently.
Coordinated by Julius-Maximilians-Universität of Würzburg in Germany, the design study Descent And Exploration in Deep Autonomy of Lunar Underground Structures (DAEDALUS) was one of three selected by ESA for integration with the agency’s plans for Lander Logistics Large of Europe (EL3).
Currently still at the study stage, the 8,500-kilogram EL3 lawyer is designed to host a series of different missions. A selection of the first payment to be made on the lawyer’s board is expected in 2022.
If selected, a crane on board the EL3 surface would take the DAEDALUS probe down to a moon pit attached to a tent. During the descent, a lidar system on board the probe would be used to map its interior. The probe would also measure temperature and radiation levels, data that could be a way to use caves as natural defenses against radiation, micrometeorites and surface temperatures for a habitat for the first lunar researchers.
As soon as the probe reached the bottom of the pit, the probe would be separated from its tent for independent inspection. The tent would then act as a Wi-Fi receiver allowing DAEDALUS to put its decisions out of the crater.
As well as determining whether lunar caves could be used to build habitats, the mission will give us our first look at lunar cavities believed to be ‘skies’ into lava caves. These caves would be of great scientific interest and could even hide water ice deposits.
In addition to the Julius-Maximilians-Universität, the DAEDALUS design study includes input from Bremen Jacobs University of Germany, and CISAS Italy, University of Padova, INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Padova, Group VIGEA Virtual Geographic of Reggio Emilia and CIRA Space Exploration Technologies Department.