Deployment method and optimal placement of surface beacon navigation system for co-located lunar landings

Christina Toldbo*, Adam Kiss, Noel Törjék, César A.T. Vázquez, Dániel Bényei, Magnus Therkelsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Lunar Space exploration is currently accelerating and manned and unmanned missions to the Moon are planned by several space agencies and private companies in the coming 5–10 years. The construction of the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway (LOP-G) and plans to establish a more permanent human presence on the Lunar surface will increase the landing frequency and require the capability to safely, soft-land successive missions in near proximity to each other. The Lunar South Pole is one of the preferred locations for surface exploration due to the discovery of volatiles in the permanently shadowed craters found on the poles. However, landing on the lunar South Pole of the Moon is challenging due to the illumination and loss of Earth line of sight conditions combined with a complex topography. The increased interest in co-located lunar landings concurrent with construction of Lunar infrastructure and a challenging landing area warrants new approaches in navigation technology.

In this paper we present a concept for a system of radio beacons installed around the Shackleton Crater Rim “SR1” landing site on the Lunar South Pole. We present considerations for optimal placement of the radio beacons based on the specific landing site topography and quantify our finding with dilution of precision (DOP) calculations. We present a novel method for deploying the radio beacons as penetrators with embedded thermoelectric generators (TEGs) for autonomous power generation. We present findings on beacon survivability, penetration depth, spin-stabilization of the penetrators and maximal theoretical power generation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume193
Pages (from-to)432-443
Number of pages12
ISSN0094-5765
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Navigation
  • Radio beacons
  • Lunar landing
  • Penetrator technology
  • Thermoelectric generators

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