In Situ Planetary Resource Exploration using Miniature Robotic Subsurface Sample Analysis 2009-01-2528
The feasibility of extended human presence on the Moon and Mars depends critically on in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) to mitigate the high interplanetary transportation costs. Key resource requirements include water, oxygen, fuel and a variety of building materials. This paper discusses the robotic instrumentation associated with the LORE (Lunar Origins and Resource Exploration) miniature payload proposed for JAXA's Selene-2, and the potential follow-on CSA INUKSHUK landed-Mars mission. LORE would for the first time systematically explore the lunar surface and subsurface ice distribution, dust, mineralogy and resources using combined UV/VIS/MIR reflectance spectroscopy. The spectral differences between ilmenite and other lunar minerals in the ultraviolet region will be exploited for mapping ilmenite distribution and abundances on the lunar surface and subsurface. A miniature robotic drill with integral bore-hole probe will facilitate subsurface pristine mapping of the lunar polar regolith stratigraphy and condensed volatile content to elucidate prior impact history and trapped volatile content.
Mission cost effectiveness is achieved through a synergistic instrument suite based on advanced but mature miniaturization technologies that enable high spectral measurement performance with minimal mass and power. In situ systematic sample analysis to depths of about 0.5 m in the lunar regolith will be performed using a monolithic fiber-optic coupled probe integrated directly with the robotic drill.
The LORE sample analysis will employ the data synergy provided by a miniature suite of high-performance instruments, including UV/VIS/NIR spectral reflectance between 250 and 3300 nm at about 4 nm resolution, and microscopic VIS color imaging of the sample morphology and grain size.