Feasibility study of a lunar landing area navigation network deployed by impacting micro-probes

P. Weiss, Kai Leung Yung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Exploration activities on the lunar surface will require precise knowledge of the position of a robotic or manned vehicle. This paper discusses the use of radio beacons as method to determine the position of a mobile unit on the surface. Previous concepts consider the installation of such equipment by the robot itself. A novel idea is discussed here, namely to use miniaturized radio beacons which are deployed (released) during the descent of the lander on the surface. This idea has three major advantages compared to previous proposals: (i) it avoids the time costly and energy consuming installation of the equipment by a rover. (ii) The impact velocities of the probes are in reasonable range since the probes are deployed at low altitude from the main lander that approaches its final landing site. (iii) The probes can take reconnaissance pictures during their free-fall to the surface. This method will therefore deliver charts of the proximity of the landing area with higher resolution than those done by orbital means. Such information will enable scientists and mission operators to precisely plan robotic excursions (and later Extra Vehicular Activity) through the identification of hazardous areas and spots of interest. The paper will study the feasibility of this system from different aspects. The first section will outline the application scenario and the potential outcome of such a system for the coming phase of lunar exploration. A technological readiness review was done to evaluate if the payload instrumentation for these high velocity impacting probes is available. The second section presents the simulation of the impact process of a preliminary probe model in nonlinear transient dynamic finite element analysis using the Lagrangian hydrocode LS-DYNA. The purpose of this simulation was to evaluate if the beacon is able to communicate with the mobile unit even when buried into the soil. The integration of this payload into coming lunar missions will contribute to the international efforts of lunar exploration with a landing site ad hoc navigation system for robotic or manned excursions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-903
Number of pages11
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010


  • Beacon
  • Impact
  • Moon
  • Navigation network
  • Penetrator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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