Enabling & Support

Lunar analogues study

08/03/2016 144 views 0 likes
ESA / Enabling & Support / Preparing for the Future / Discovery and Preparation

The GSP Study "Analogues for preparing robotic and human exploration on the moon" has successfully been finalized by a consortium around the Belgian-based prime Space Applications Services.

To support future human and robotic exploration on the moon, the objective of the study was to identify needs for Artificial Lunar Analogues and conceive new analogues where gaps were identified.

Lunar Analogues are key in preparing complex systems and operations for lunar exploration missions, as they allow testing of equipment, processes and environmental hardening on earth under controlled conditions. 6 main groups of applications for Artificial Lunar Analogues were identified:

  1. Testing In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU): mining, extracting, constructing processes
  2. Studying the impact of communication constraints (bandwidth, delay) on tele-operations, robotics operations, and human-robotic cooperation
  3. Dust prevention and mitigation
  4. Verification and Validation of systems, procedures and new operational concepts
  5. Partial gravity evaluation of Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) tasks and tools handling
  6. Testing (semi-)closed loop Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS)


The gap analysis based on the above-mentioned areas is displayed in the infographic below:

The study considered three existing Analogue Facilities in Europe that can already address several needs and could be a crystallisation point for a more complete facility that closes the most important identified gaps:


  • The Hydrosphere facility in Marseille, France
  • The ALTEC/TAS-I facilities in Torino, Italy
  • The EAC/DLR site in Cologne, Germany

As a conclusion of the study and interviews with more than 100 experts to identify the needs for Artificial Lunar Analogues, three concepts for Lunar Analogue Facilities have been developed that respond to the identified needs in preparing for a future exploration mission to the moon.

Identified as the most promising lunar analogue concept is the proposed “European Surface Operations Laboratory (ESOL)” at the DLR/EAC site in Cologne. It exploits synergies with already existing facilities at EAC on the DLR Campus.

A first element of ESOL, an inflatable structure that covers a lunar surface analogue and regolith simulant area, is currently being established at EAC.

For more information please contact Andreas Diekmann: andreas.diekmann @ esa.int