Lunar Exploration Analogue Deployment (LEAD)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA) to conduct a series of field tests to replicate scenarios of a lunar sample return mission. The location, a Quebec quarry, has been slightly modified to emulate the lunar surface. In addition, to recreate the difficulty of long-distance communications, the rover will be operated by teams based in Saint-Hubert (Quebec) and Germany.
Location: Montérégie, Quebec
Simulating Lunar Missions to Advance Readiness of Science and Technologies
Scientists and engineers conduct field tests and more extensive "
analogue deployments" to gain knowledge and hands-on experience. These "
out-in-the-field" exercises aim to put rover prototypes in harsh environments to test navigation systems, practise collecting samples, validate the time and tools needed to execute specific rover operations, and identify possible problems.
The field test conducted in Montérégie has two major objectives:
To gather realistic travel information during remote operations
In order to plan real lunar missions, operators need to assess the impact of varying terrains on speed and distance covered, as well as identify the degree of autonomy best suited for the surface explored.
To assess user interface tools
The Juno rover will be equipped with a suite of sensors and instruments. It will be remotely operated using the CSA's Apogy software, an operations system that allows for simultaneous procedures with multiple operators and tools. Since the rover will be controlled from a distance, operators will have to account for a lag between their commands and the action carried out by the rover, exactly like a real lunar mission.
- ESA Teams
European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) (Germany)
Role: Remotely operate and perform a series of tests on the Juno rover, and shadow the CSA control team in Saint-Hubert.
European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) (Netherlands)
Role: Supported the CSA in establishing requirements to conduct the field tests.
- CSA Headquarters (Saint-Hubert, Quebec)
Role: Remotely operate and perform a series of tests on the Juno rover; and shadow the ESA control team in Germany. Monitor operations and gather data to establish a comparison of metrics on methods tested by both teams.
- Field Team (Montérégie, Quebec)
CSA employees on site
Role: Establish and maintain communication links with the other teams, troubleshoot, and ensure the safe operations of the rover.
Technology developed for space is often useful on Earth as well. The advancement of autonomous and remote navigation controls, as well as hardware and batteries that can withstand low temperatures, has applications for rover and drone operations in remote and extreme areas like the far North.
Did you know?
On the Moon, the Sun shines for 14 consecutive days, during which it is around 100 °C, followed by 14 days of darkness, when temperatures dip to -150 °C. This cycle corresponds to the lunar phases, which are clearly visible from Earth. This is an example of the extreme conditions lunar rovers must be able to survive.
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