RIMRES: A project summary
In Proceedings of ICRA 2013 Planetary Rovers Workshop, (ICRA-2013), 05.5.-10.5.2013, Karlsruhe, o.A., May/2013.
The Moon has been a subject of interest of space agencies, being seen as a candidate to establish a permanent outpost in space . However, in order to reach this goal with reasonable efforts, the utilization of local resources which are available on the Moon is an essential requirement. The access to water-ice is of main interest, since it would provide a local source for oxygen and hydrogen, and thus make a costly transport of breathable air and fuel from earth dispensable. The formation of water-ice on the Moon can be due to different mechanisms , e.g. reactions of sunwind particles with locally present oxides which can be found in Moon regolith. Further theories explain the presence of water-ice with out-gassing of the Moon’s core, or consider meteoroids or comets as possible carriers. Meanwhile, the missing atmosphere and exposure to the sun leads to evaporation and thus a reduction of water-ice on the lunar surface. This leads to the conclusion, that water-ice can be only present in socalled cold traps, permanently shadowed polar regions, and LCROSS mission  successfully provided evidences for the presence of water-ice in these regions. In order to allow for a direct, local examination and exploration of polar regions, more complex and technological challenging missions are required. These missions will comprise a higher risk than remote sensing missions – commonly the deployment of mobile robotic systems is considered which need to be capable of locomotion in demanding crater regions . Despite a higher operational risk, such missions provide a high scientific value, since they will allow a thorough exploration of the polar regions of the Moon, e.g. to analyse the presence of volatile matter and distribution of this matter . Motivated by these requirements and building upon experiences gained in LUNARES , the project RIMRES has developed a modular, reconfigurable, heterogeneous multirobot system to serve as a terrestrial demonstrator for lunar crater exploration missions. The capability of reconfiguration is one of the essential design aspects of the project RIMRES leading to a flexible approach to (re)use of available resources. This reconfigurability can be exploited for nominal operation and in conditions of failure, and provides a means to increase the system’s overall efficiency while still maintaining redundancies.