Lunar Exploration Analogue Deployment (LEAD)
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.
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:
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 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.
- ESA Teams
European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) (Germany)
- Role: Remotely operated and performed a series of tests on the Juno rover, and shadowed 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.
- European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) (Germany)
- CSA Headquarters (Saint-Hubert, Quebec)
Role: Remotely operated and performed a series of tests on the Juno rover, and shadowed the ESA control team in Germany. Monitored operations and gathered data to establish a comparison of metrics on methods tested by both teams.
- Field Team (Montérégie, Quebec)
CSA employees on site
- Role: Established and maintained communication links with the other teams, troubleshot, and ensured the safe operations of the rover.
- CSA employees on site
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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