Project Lead: Javier Stober
The Space Enabled Research Group of the MIT Media Lab is investigating methods of passive regolith collection on the Lunar surface, where passive is defined as not requiring any additional moving parts or electrical components. The current focus of the project is the employment of regolith collection receptacles mounted between rover wheel grousers which may or may not include paraffin or other waxes as a “sticky material” for attracting regolith. Upon wheel rotation, regolith is captured in each receptacle. For the case employing wax, melting and solidification is anticipated via careful placement and the leveraging of incident solar radiation.
Current Status: The work is currently in a conceptual phase with initial experimental tests conducted on subcomponents. Considerable progress in experimental testing is expected during spring 2021, pending machine shop and laboratory access.
Opportunities for Engagement with the Project:
Students participating in this project are likely to be involved in material evaluation and selection, carrying out of experiments which leverage a regolith simulant which replicates numerous material properties of Lunar highlands and mare soils to predict performance on the Lunar surface, solid modeling of hardware, thermal and mechanical analysis, as well as reviews of pertinent literature. Successful execution of this proof of concept may lead to submission to calls for proposals for flight projects. All technical backgrounds are eligible to contribute. Students with experience in heat transfer, machining, solid modeling, experimental methods, and material characterization are especially encouraged to consider this project.