The preliminary assessment of some potential candidate payload items is given here for guidance purposes only. It is the intention, if EuroMoon 2000 is approved, to issue an Announcement of Opportunity to industry, national agencies and academia at large to put forward payload items that can be made ready to fly by the imposed launch date, without the need for further lengthy development programmes. EuroMoon 2000 will provide sufficient payload resources (at least 250 kg for the Lander) to make the mission attractive to both the scientific community and potential sponsors.
The mission goals dictate that the Lander's payload be divided into two categories:
The Millennium Challenge payload
The scope of the 'Millennium Challenge' contest has still to be established in detail, but it is expected to encompass a variety of objectives associated with the lunar South Pole's exploration, starting from the common point of the Lander's arrival on the lunar surface. The contest would focus on developing and applying innovative technologies for the exploration of the South Pole crater and its contents.
Multiple packages (each of 30 50 kg), chosen on the basis of best expected payload performance, could be attributed to various sponsors. Self-propelled micro-rovers, for example, each weighing no more than 10 kg, could be dropped off from the Lander to function as autonomously as possible. The Lander could provide minimal support to such payload items in terms, for example, of a camera for tracking micro-rovers and acting as a communications relay station to the Orbiter (visible for a few minutes per revolution).
Concept for a Micro-Rover
Autonomous micro-rovers can be expected to suffer large thermal effects from even a brief loss of sunlight. A drop-skirt under the Lander's main cylinder may be needed to act as a nighttime shelter for such small payload items.
A harpoon system might be envisaged for searching for volatiles inside the crater. Wire-guided-missile experience would allow a 10 km line to be deployed (with communications link only, while the probe would need autonomous battery power). Providers of such systems exist in Europe, but potential sponsors for this kind of payload have not yet been identified.
A large inflated ball could also descend to explore the intriguing crater-bottom environment, by rolling down the crater's sloping face.
The ESA payload
Scientific instruments may be installed on the Lander (for global landing-site environment monitoring), on a micro-rover (for limited reach in proximity of the Lander), on a mini-rover (for sampling at various sites over distances of a few 100 m, to achieve geological diversity). In addition, a probe may be dropped into the South Pole crater during the Lander's descent.
courtesy of NASA
A solar-powered mini-rover could carry such payload items as ground-penetrating radar to search for water from the crater rim, a harpoon system, one or more micro-rovers, or a lightweight robotic arm. It would allow the demonstration/evaluation of mobility technologies (e.g. advanced vision-based control techniques) of the sort necessary for the further phases of an international Moon Programme.
The rover chassis could be procured from Russia and the stereo-vision software for navigation could be provided by CNES (F). Open questions include the availability of a hardware platform for the navigational software, i.e. a space-qualified on-board computer, and the electrical power supply (e.g. solar- array design).
This mini-rover nevertheless represents a significant challenge in terms of its accommodation on the Lander and its subsequent deployment.
Mini-Rover ready for deployment from the Lander
DLR (D) has already proposed micro-rovers of the three-body crawler type for LEDA, which could also be considered for EuroMoon 2000. A possible micro-rover scenario might include instrument deployment, measurement and inspection in the close proximity of the Lander (10 50 m range). Another DLR initiative, again intended for LEDA, in the form of a very light robotic arm with a very compact and sensitive end-effector, could also be of interest for EuroMoon 2000. A similar type of robotic arm is also under development at ASI (I).