Acquisition of Moon Oxygen Resources

Scientific Leader:
Project leader:
MSAE Francesco Allegrini
Contact person:

The aim of the project is an evaluation of concepts of robotic mining techniques to be applied in a future Regolith conveyor system, supporting current activities within the ERA-Star project AMOR. In the far future, not before 2025, the extraction of resources on the moon, e.g. in order to supply fuel for space vehicles, will be one essential goal of space exploration. Here, a cost-efficient and reliable mining technique for the collection of the regolith plays an important role. This project will help to select suitable components for this as well as for a suitable EDF (Earth Demonstration Facility).

Duration: 10.04.2007 till 31.10.2007
Donee: German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH
Sponsor: BIG Bremen
Partner: OHB System, Fraunhofer IFAM Institute, Sol├║car Energia R&D
Application Field: Space Robotics
Related Projects: TDC Feasibility Study
Feasibility Study for a Test- and Demonstration Center (08.2006- 12.2006)
Investigation of Different Robot Technologies to be Used in Lunar Pole Craters (09.2006- 11.2006)
Reconfigurable Robots for Extraterrestrial Exploration (07.2007- 12.2009)

Project details

Source: Robert Borchers, DFKI GmbH

The AMOR project (Acquisition of Moon Oxygen Resources) is a research concept of OHB to harvest regolith on the moon and extract oxygen from it: the oxygen could be used for different purposes like propulsion and life support. Main constraints of this concept are that the conditions on the moon are extremely different from Earth experiences, the characteristics of its resources not fully known and the future applicability projected in next decades (30-50 years?). Risk predictions for a future mission are very high. First of all, it has been decided to develop demonstrators for the earth (around 2010) and for the moon (around 2015). Among the functionalities of the demonstrator one of the most critical is the Regolith Collection. There are strict requirements on the subsystem designed for it. DFKI shall analyze the problem of Regolith Collection and find a potential design for this subsystem.

The AMOR Regolith Collector Evaluation at DFKI is a feasibility study of designing a machine able to excavate and store Regolith. Comparison of excavation methods will be in regard to some criteria in order to estimate the most suitable design. Main constraints for collecting Regolith are given by the Regolith characteristics (very abrasive, most of it is smaller than fine sand and about 20% is smaller than 0.02 millimeters) and by the transports and logistics, since only 9-10%(Illmenite) of 100% Regolith is used to produce ~1% Oxygen.

The core analysis in AMOR Regolith Collector Evaluation regards investigation on the pros and cons of the different concepts regarding functional suitability, efficiency, reliability? Results from this analysis give the evaluation of the most appropriate excavator design.

In the analysis we shall identify performances such as

  • Geometric parameters,
  • Loads, torques and forces,
  • Consumption,
  • Controllability.

To excavate and transport the Regolith, we are investigating different types of mechanisms such as Bucker Excavator, Crane Excavator, Milling Cutter?
Major point is to find out measurable criteria which provide a qualitative and quantitative classification of those mechanisms. Simulations will be taken using a suitable environment as ODE (Open Dynamics Engine) for evaluating interactions among rigid bodies. Another major achievement is to prove whether using ODE environment gives realistic and feasible results for simulation of Regolith excavation.

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last updated 04.01.2024