NASA simulated a tiny part of the Moon on Earth
(ORDO NEWS) — Before flying to the moon, the Apollo astronauts trained on Earth in places that were most similar to the lunar surface.
Astronaut training took place in the volcanic regions of Iceland, Hawaii and the southwestern United States.
For training ahead of the Artemis missions, an upgraded “mini-moon” test facility will be used, which will allow astronauts and robots to experience realistic lunar conditions.
The Lunar Lab and Regolith Test Facility at Ames Research Center in California simulates conditions on the Moon, allowing researchers to test equipment designed for the lunar surface.
The lab is currently being used as a test environment for future phases of the Artemis program, conducting research on optical sounding and drilling tests, as well as experiments on resource use and extraction methods.
The object was built in 2009. It has been expanded and upgraded to include a lunar laboratory with several test beds with various models of lunar regolith.
These large interior sandboxes can mimic various areas on the Moon.
Test benches are small, but they can provide all the necessary conditions. The first original sandbox has dimensions of approximately 4x4x0.5 meters.
It is filled with eight tons of lunar regolith simulator called Johnson Space Center One simulant (JSC-1A). JSC-1A mimics lunar pools and is dark gray in color.
The new test stand has dimensions of 19x4x0.3 meters. It is filled with over 20 tons of Lunar Highlands Simulant-1 (LHS-1) in light gray to simulate the lunar highlands.
This large sandbox can be converted into a smaller but deeper stand if needed.
On the stands, you can check how various instruments and rovers work in incredibly abrasive and “sticky” regolith.
Moon dust grains are very small, like powder, but the dust can be sharp, like tiny shards of glass. In addition, she has the annoying ability to electrostatically cling to everything.
A special lighting system can simulate both the dark polar regions of the Moon and the bright light in other regions.
The new test beds have been instrumental in testing NASA‘s new lunar rover, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER).
Equipment on the test beds allowed the research teams to create more than 12 different scenarios of craters and rock formations to improve the rover’s autonomous navigation system for safely navigating the moon’s harsh environment.
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