Lunar Drill Development: Phase A.
The main objective of the Russian-led Luna-Resurs (Luna-27) is to examine the distribution of volatiles across the Lunar surface and subsurface. This shall lead to a better understanding of the Moon’s environment and the Earth-Moon history. The mission is also investigating the feasibility of utilizing lunar regolith in future human exploration. The Lunar Drill Development for this mission was proposed by ESA as part of its technological program GSTP-6. This activity was undertaken by a European consortium led by SELEX-ES of Italy and will demonstrate for the selected design concept the feasibility of accessing, acquiring and extracting subsurface samples from the depth of up to 2m. The crucial requirement will be to maintain its temperatures below the specified threshold, associated with preserving volatiles.

For the target Lunar Polar application, the Lunar Drill will be equipped with both a torsional drive and a percussion module which will impart an axial force in order to enhance the conventional drilling process. Astronika’s expertise is particularly relevant to the hammering function. In the case of lunar regolith penetration, a tool that combines two types of drives will result in higher efficiency and effectiveness of the penetration into the more solid layers of the soil, which can have higher strength due to the presence of ice. The selected electromagnetic principle of operation, which is based on space penetrator solutions developed by CBK PAN, will ensure highly reliable operation with high force impulses (hundreds to several thousand Newtons). Furthermore, the proposed solution allows for the smooth control of frequency and energy impulses, which is difficult to achieve with the use of other mechanic drives. The hammering system will be an integral part of the drill and will be tailored according to its functional and dimensional requirements. ASTRONIKA’s contribution to this activity includes both the Lunar Drill percussion design work as well as the preparation of test models which will serve to verify the key elements of the design.

The project additionally focuses on obtaining a maximum efficiency of the magnetic circuitry and the application of novel materials with high saturation induction, e.g., permendur.

The project is carried out under SELEX-ES Contract No. 5100137361. Completion date: February 2016.