Luxembourg lunar robotics to help create permanent base on the moon

30 June 2021

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Asteroid Day 2021.

Yearly global event Asteroid Day is taking place on 30 June 2021. In Luxembourg, Prof. Miguel Olivares-Mendez who heads the SpaceR Research Group, the LunaLab, and the Zero-Gravity Lab at the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) is releasing a special video tour of the LunaLab.

On Asteroid Day, the Space Robotics Research Group (SpaceR) is giving a tour of LunaLab facility. The research group’s lunar robotics work could help create a permanent base on the moon by identifying the water-ice and minerals needed to build structures, sustain life, and manufacture rocket fuel locally at the new moon base.

The lunar base will serve as a much better launching point for future missions, as well as a new base for asteroid monitoring and observation. Once the base has been built, the work developing algorithms for lunar robots will go on to support further research and exploration of asteroids.

Robots to explore unreachable places for humans

Robotics is a disruptive technology that is making a lot more possible in space. Going forward, space exploration will involve some people, but it will likely involve a whole lot more robots.

In the future, there will be massive networks of smart robots and sophisticated communications systems. This is partly because keeping people alive and employed in space is expensive. Robots and their development are still much more affordable than astronauts. As such, robots can get work done without using up the limited resources available in an environment like the moon. Similarly, advancements in technologies like artificial intelligence can make robots smart enough to interpret and respond to these environments. This means that robots can explore places where we have limited information or poor access and expect them to perform their missions reasonably well with minimal investment and no risk to human life.

“With robots, we’ll be able to accomplish a lot more with a lot less — and we’ll be able to go to places that are completely inaccessible for people.”

Prof. Miguel Olivares-Mendez

Robots to become our interface with the cosmos

Asteroids are among the least accessible bodies in the solar system. Yet they are rich in resources that will be required to build other space projects. Ultimately, robots will be able to reach them and extract these resources.

Diverting asteroids from a collision path with Earth or mining asteroids for minerals will mean counting on small autonomous or semi-autonomous robots to get close to the asteroid.

“Robots, and especially autonomous robots, are going to become our interface with the cosmos. So my team is working on making sure that our robots are smart enough to live up to the task.”

Prof. Miguel Olivares-Mendez

Explore LunaLab 

The International Space Master’s LunaLab is one of the few facilities across the globe that simulates lunar conditions for testing applications such as autonomous navigation of lunar robots, multi-robot interaction, lunar surface extraction, manipulation and transportation, additive manufacturing and regolith analysis.

SnT – LunaLab: the Lunar analogue facility constructed by the Space Robotics (SpaceR) Research Group at SnT, used by researchers and students of the Interdisciplinary Space Master (ISM) at the University of Luxembourg



SpaceR research group:

LetzSCIENCE , follow a lunar rover in augmented reality

LetzSCIENCE by Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) aims to raise awareness of research in Luxembourg. To reach people in Luxembourg in a new, innovative way, the campaign combines augmented reality with the beauty of science.

See a lunar rover drive around on the Moon around you in augmented reality with LetzSCIENCE App.

Asteroid Day is an educational and awareness programme. It aims to inform the world about asteroids: how they form, their role in our solar system and how we can protect our planet from impacts.

More about The Space Robotics Research Group (SpaceR) and LunaLab.

Read the complete interview of Prof. Miguel Olivares-Mendez

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