SCS Undergraduate Thesis Topics

Matthew Delaney David Wettergreen Investigating Effectiveness of Small Scale Lunar Excavators

This work presents a small-scale (<100kg) lunar excavation rover "Lysander", an investigation into its effectiveness for lunar excavation tasks, and a sensitivity analysis of design and operational parameters in point-to-point excavation of small scale lunar excavators.

A 2008 Astrobotic study determined that robots with mass of 300kg or less are a viable option for lunar excavation tasks including building protective berms for future lunar outpost landing pads. From this work, a regolith construction simulator dubbed REMOTE was developed to provide a model of the time required to complete lunar excavation tasks for a given platform in addition to a numerical analysis of the sensitivity of design and operational parameters of a rover with respect to its overall task productivity.

With the lessons learned from this study, the Lysander rover was developed in 2009 by a small Carnegie Mellon team for lunar excavation research and entrance into the 2009 NASA Regolith Excavation Challenge. The Lysander rover's scraper style excavator design was inspired by the CRATOS rover employing a centrally located scraper bucket for regolith excavation and transport.

Using REMOTE, this work models the high and low sensitivity operational and design parameters of the Lysander rover and provides experimental validation of the actual sensitivities. The lessons learned from this analysis present a design methodology showing which parameters to focus on when designing small scale lunar excavators.

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