/Configuring innovative regolith moving techniques for lunar outposts

Configuring innovative regolith moving techniques for lunar outposts

Krzysztof Skonieczny, Matthew E. DiGioia, Raymond L Barsa, David Wettergreen and William (Red) L. Whittaker
Conference Paper, IEEE Aerospace, March, 2009

Download Publication (PDF)

Copyright notice: This material is presented to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors or by other copyright holders. All persons copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author’s copyright. These works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.


The NASA exploration vision calls for extended human presence at lunar outposts within the coming decades. Any permanent outpost requires a significant amount of infrastructure and a cost-effective way of preparing this infrastructure is to utilize native materials such as regolith and rocks inherently present. This work investigates techniques for excavating, transporting, and building up regolith in the context of berm building, surface stabilization, and other critical tasks using small (100 kg to 300 kg) robots. Terrestrial excavation techniques and machines are reviewed. REMOTE (the regolith excavation mobility & tooling environment), a simulated task model that accounts for the special requirements of excavating in the harsh lunar environment, is presented. The model is used to quantitatively compare excavation systems according to key metrics including production ratio. It is shown that the teleoperated lunar berm construction robots achieve a production ratio less than 1/10th that of commercial equipment employed in terrestrial construction. A preliminary sensitivity analysis shows that these results are affected by the operating velocity as well as excavation blade design. A prototype of a rock rake for soil stabilization is also demonstrated. The goal of this work is to arrive at innovative robotic approaches that are best suited for excavation and infrastructure preparation tasks on the moon.

BibTeX Reference
author = {Krzysztof Skonieczny and Matthew E. DiGioia and Raymond L Barsa and David Wettergreen and William (Red) L. Whittaker},
title = {Configuring innovative regolith moving techniques for lunar outposts},
booktitle = {IEEE Aerospace},
year = {2009},
month = {March},
keywords = {robot, excavation, Moon, lunar, regolith},