Lunar Exploration Analogue Deployment (LEAD)

The CSA awards funding to prepare for future missions to the Moon.

Field Test

Date: -

Location: Montérégie, Quebec

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) partnered 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, was slightly modified to emulate the lunar surface. In addition, to recreate the difficulty of long-distance communications, the rover was operated by teams based in Saint-Hubert (Quebec) and Germany.

360° video of a simulated lunar rover mission (Credit: CSA.)

Simulating Lunar Missions to Advance Readiness of Science and Technology

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 had two major objectives:

  1. 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.

  2. To assess user interface tools

    The Juno rover was equipped with a suite of sensors and instruments. It was remotely operated using the CSA's Apogy software, an operations system that allows for simultaneous procedures with multiple operators and tools. Since the rover was controlled from a distance, operators had to account for a lag between their commands and the action carried out by the rover, exactly like a real lunar mission.

Juno, terrestrial prototype of a lunar rover. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)


The field test site for the Lunar Exploration Analogue Deployment

The field test site, which has been slightly modified to emulate the Moon's surface. (Credit: CSA)

Terrestrial Applications

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.

Juno, a rugged, all-terrain rover

Illustration of Juno, a rugged, all-terrain rover. (Credit: CSA)

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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