Thermal Design for Moon-NEXT Polar Rover 2009-01-2461
The Moon-NEXT Lunar Rover is the mobile component of a lunar lander mission to provide the best possible in situ science and mobility in the area of the Lunar south pole. The general goal of the mission is part lunar science as well as technology demonstration which are not limited to the Moon. The Rover element of the mission is composed of the rover vehicle service model element, locomotion system and the science payload, with a significant constraint on the overall mass. Currently the aim is for launch in the time frame of 2015 to 2018.
The lunar thermal environment presents the main challenge to autonomous rover thermal design at the selected landing site. A primary goal of the mission is to operate in the polar region of the Moon, in a territory that may support future a manned base. The thermal design addresses rover operations south of 85°S lunar latitude, an environment very much governed by the available sunlight. Even at polar locations such as the peak of eternal light, variations in surface topography lead to extended periods of darkness. The Rover must be able to withstand long sun exposure (500 hours) followed by extended time in darkness (200 hours) which together makes up about 1 lunar day. This variation in illumination affects not only the Rover body, but also the surrounding lunar surface temperatures.
This paper discusses the thermal design considerations necessary for such Lunar rover with thermal control techniques devised for the design of this Lunar explorer mission.