Since the 1960s, claims have been made that water ice deposits should exist in permanently shadowed craters near both lunar poles. Recent interpretations of data from the Lunar Prospector-Neutron Spectrometer (LP- NS) confirm that significant concentrations of hydrogen exist, probably in the form of water ice, in the permanently shadowed polar cold traps. Yet, due to the large spatial resolution (45-60 Ian) of the LP-NS measurements relative to these shadowed craters (approx.5-25 km), these data offer little certainty regarding the precise location, form or distribution of these deposits. Even less is known about how such deposits of water ice might effect lunar regolith physical properties relevant to mining, excavation, water extraction and construction. These uncertainties will need to be addressed in order to validate fundamental lunar In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) precepts by 2011. Given the importance of the in situ utilization of water and other resources to the future of space exploration a need arises for the advanced deployment of a robotic and reconfigurable system for physical properties and resource reconnaissance. Based on a collection of high-TRL. designs, the Subsurface Analyzer and Sample Handler (SASH) addresses these needs, particularly determining the location and form of water ice and the physical properties of regolith. SASH would be capable of: (1) subsurface access via drilling, on the order of 3-10 meters into both competent targets (ice, rock) and regolith, (2) down-hole analysis through drill string embedded instrumentation and sensors (Neutron Spectrometer and Microscopic Imager), enabling water ice identification and physical properties measurements; (3) core and unconsolidated sample acquisition from rock and regolith; (4) sample handling and processing, with minimized contamination, sample containerization and delivery to a modular instrument payload. This system would be designed with three mission enabling goals, including: (1) a self-contained, low power, low mass, "black box'' configuration for operations from a lander, various classes of rovers or a surface-based platform with human assistance or robotic anchoring mechanisms; (2) reconfigurable and scalable sample handling for delivery to various types of instrumentation, depending on mission requirements; and (3) the use of advanced automation control and diagnostic techniques that will afford local human deployed, remote teleoperation and fully autonomous intelligent operations. Though a great deal of technology has been advanced toward these objectives, the SASH system faces significant design challenges, including the low gravity environment, various levels of autonomy in operations, radiation exposure, dust contamination, and temperature extremes and deltas. Significant input from the scientific and engineering communities, as well as a significant environmental testing program, will be required to guide the design process.
Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Space Resources Roundtable VI; 21; LPI-Contrib-1224