Concept and design of an autonomous micro rover for long term lunar exploration
In Proceedings of the 74th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), IAC-23-D1,2,11,x77783, (IAC-2023), 02.10.-06.10.2023, Baku, International Astronautical Federation (IAF), Oct/2023.
Research on robotic lunar exploration has seen a broad revival, especially since the Google Lunar X-Prize
increasingly brought private endeavors into play. This development is supported by national agencies with
the aim of enabling long-term lunar infrastructure for in-situ operations and the establishment of a moon
village. One challenge for effective exploration missions is developing a compact and lightweight robotic
rover to reduce launch costs and open the possibility for secondary payload options. Existing micro rovers for
exploration missions are clearly limited by their design for one day of sunlight and their low level of autonomy.
For expanding the potential mission applications and range of use, an extension of lifetime could be reached
by surviving the lunar night and providing a higher level of autonomy. To address this objective, the paper
presents a system design concept for a lightweight micro rover with long-term mission duration capabilities,
derived from a multi-day lunar mission scenario at equatorial regions. Technical solution approaches are
described, analyzed, and evaluated, with emphasis put on the harmonization of hardware selection due to a
strictly limited budget in dimensions and power.
Micro, rover, lunar, night survival, space, robotic