First Canadian rover to explore the Moon
- Launch: no earlier than
- Mission status: in development
For the first time in history, a Canadian rover will explore the Moon and help in the international search for water ice, a key component needed for the future of human space exploration.
The Canadian rover will land on the south pole of the Moon and will carry six scientific payloads: five Canadian and one American. Thanks to a close and ongoing collaboration between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Canadian lunar rover will fly as part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.
Building on the success of past scientific instruments, academia and industry will once again have the chance to show Canadian know-how in that field. The mission is a technology demonstration augmented by a suite of scientific payloads meant to set the base for future Canadian lunar exploration.
As part of Canada's plan for robotic space exploration, the CSA has been actively working on refining rover designs and building Canadian expertise in rover technology for decades.
Why send a rover?
Rovers act like scientists' eyes and hands – they help gather information on samples of elements at different locations, and send data back to Earth, as opposed to landers that can only analyze one location.
Using their tools and instruments, they can help scientists learn more about important resources on the Moon that will be needed to establish a long-term presence on the Moon and send humans farther into space.
Who will build the Canadian rover?
In , Canadensys Aerospace Corporation (Canadensys) and its partners were selected to build the Canadian lunar rover as well as to develop the Canadian payloads. NASA is set to provide the sixth payload.
The company will work with organizations from industry and academia:
- Bubble Technology Industries – Chalk River, Ontario
- Leap Biosystems – Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Maya HTT – Montreal, Quebec
- NGC Aerospace – Sherbrooke, Quebec
- Resonance Ltd. – Barrie, Ontario
- Waves in Space Corporation – Cambridge, Ontario
- RF Collins Consulting Incorporated – Toronto (Ontario)
- Simon Fraser University – Burnaby, British Columbia
- University of Alberta – Edmonton, Alberta
- Université de Sherbrooke – Sherbrooke, Quebec
- University of Winnipeg – Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Western University – London, Ontario
- International partners
- Arizona State University – Tempe, Arizona (USA)
- Goonhilly – Helston, Cornwall (UK)
- NASA Ames Research Center – Mountain View, California (USA)
- Nokia – Dallas, Texas (USA)
- Planetary Science Institute – Tucson, Arizona (USA)
- Surrey Satellite Technology Limited – Surrey Research Park, Guildford (UK)
What will the Canadian rover do on the Moon?
The rover will explore a region of the lunar south pole. With the help of its scientific payloads, it will gather scientific data to help find water ice and allow scientists to better understand the lunar geology and environment.
The rover will have the ability to:
- drive into and operate inside of permanently shadowed regions for up to one hour
- survive lunar nights (−170 °C to less than −200 °C), which can last up to 14 Earth days
- use multiple modes of communication
- maximize lunar surface operations and scientific data return
- provide panoramic imagery and video of the lunar surface
The rover will navigate the surface of the Moon to test and demonstrate key systems like surface mobility, telecommunications, dust mitigation, navigation, and remote semi-autonomous control.
Rover operations will be performed in Canada. Both Canadian and American scientists will have access to the data collected by the rover's scientific payloads.
The objectives of the Canadian lunar rover are to:
- travel on the surface of the Moon to see how the various systems perform
- showcase the possible applications, feasibility and performance of a new technology
- make scientific measurements that will help determine the amount of hydrogen present in the Moon soil, which is one of the best indicators of water ice while defining at which temperatures it is detected
- analyze the lunar soil to better understand the geology of the site
- assess lunar surface radiation to find out how much radiation future astronauts will be exposed to
Water is essential if we want to stay on the Moon. We need water, and the oxygen it provides, in order to live. It would also be used to produce hydrogen, a source of energy to launch rockets from its surface. Bringing water from Earth would be very expensive and complex.
- Lunar Hydrogen Autonomous Neutron Spectrometer (LHANS): Detection of hydrogen, one of the best indicators of water ice, will be the primary purpose of the instrument. It will also have the capacity to detect other key elements such as iron and calcium. This payload is provided by Bubble Technology Industries from Chalk River, Ontario.
- Frozen Regolith Observation and Science Tools (FROST) imaging suite, provided by Canadensys, will encompass three payloads:
- Lyman-Alpha Imager: will allow for identification of surface water ice with more certainty. It will measure lunar surface reflectance from faint sunlight (or starlight) at 121.6 nm. At that wavelength, water ice has lower reflectivity than the lunar soil.
- Multi-Spectral Imager (MSI): will help identify the mineralogy present in the lunar soil. The lens of the MSI is surrounded by LEDs of different wavelengths that will allow scientists to learn the reflectance of the lunar soil.
- MSI-Macro (MSI-M): will work in the same manner as the MSI but will offer the collected data at a much higher resolution.
- Radiation Micro-Dosimeter: will allow scientists to estimate how much radiation human crewmembers and lunar infrastructures are exposed to. It will provide data on the radiation environment through time for the lunar south pole. Payload is supplied from Teledyne DALSA.
- A payload to be provided by NASA.
|Size||0.5 square metres|
|Mass||30 kg (including 6 kg of science instruments)|
|Data transmission delay||6–10 seconds|
|Maximum speed||0.72 km/h (20 cm/s)|
|Powered by||Solar energy|
|Some additional features||
The Canadian lunar rover is a major initiative under the CSA's Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program. This program fosters innovation in areas of strength for Canada, like robotics, science, health and artificial intelligence.
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