National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program FY 20-24

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Arizona State University proposal supports NASAs extraterrestrial exploration efforts by offering a design for exploring the Permanently Shadowed Regions of the lunar surface that is configurable, reliable, and scalable. This proposal addresses the Big Idea Challenge of developing Capabilities to explore and operate in Permanently Shadowed Regions (PSRs) by proposing VELOS: Variable Exploratory Lunar Observation System, a configurable multi-probe exploratory system that will be launched from the lander over 100 meters into a PSR. Each probe is equipped with a configurable suite of sensors to optimize data collection potential and designed to survive the harsh lunar environment. The VELOS probes are deployed from the launcher designed to integrate with any CLPS lander. Each probe weighs around 0.3kg and the total payload mass of the VELOS system is around 10kg. VELOS will allow NASA to gather more data in and around the PSRs by providing a scalable solution to exploring unknown regions of the lunar surface.
The launcher uses preloaded springs designed to distribute probes in and around a PSR to maximize data collection potential. The launcher is made up of four tubes each consisting of a spring, release mechanism, and probe that will be preset to provide a specific trajectory. The launcher will deploy a total of four probes. One probe will be deployed in the vicinity of the lander to collect data in and around the landing site, one probe will be launched to a medium distance from the lander, and one probe will be launched the maximum distance to reach within the PSR. The maximum launch distance of each probe is calculated to be 150m with the current suggested spring but could be increased or decreased depending on the mission specifications. The probes are designed to house two temperature sensors (one internal and one external), a single chip Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), and a single-chip spectrometer (mounted to a daughterboard) for determining the presence of water. The probes will attempt to establish a network and communicate wirelessly with the lander. In the event that communication cannot be established, the probe will store the data it has collected. At the end of the mission, the launcher will deploy a final probe to act as a communication relay for all probes in the field. During this final launch, the relay probe will receive the data from the deployed sensors, then transmit the information back to the lander during its flight.
The VELOS design allows for low cost early exploration of unknown regions of the moon or future missions to Mars. The configurability and reliability allow for a wide variety of probes to be designed by student teams or NASA scientists. Much like the growing popularity of cubesats, which can be designed by students to do simple exploration tasks or experienced scientists to collect sensitive data, the scalability of the system allows teams across the country to design probes for this system and for future missions.The impact of VELOS allows for exponential innovation by pioneering a platform that can be used by commercial entities, scientists, and students for future missions.
Effective start/end date4/23/204/22/24


  • National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA): $619,000.00


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