3D simulation of Concept Lunar Bucket Wheel Excavator and Lunar Outpost.
NASA’s return to the Moon by 2020 calls for sustainable human presence, suggesting that crew will make use of local resources for mission consumables. Generally referred to as In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), lunar regolith may be mined for small scale production of hydrogen, oxygen, water and volatiles. The Colorado School of Mines constructed and tested a prototype Bucket Wheel Excavator (BWE) in 2003. This vehicle is an early prototype of a common mining vehicle adapted for lunar size and power. We created a virtual model of this vehicle, placing it in a simplified simulated regolith environment to prove that a physics-based, force feedback joystick driven virtual vehicle simulation could be delivered to consumer personal computers via the internet.
DigitalSpace and DM3D created a model of the vehicle drive train, bucket
wheel operation, limited surface dynamics and dust behavior model and placed
the vehicle in a lunar base/ISRU processor setting. DigitalSpace is pursuing
this work further by assembling a team of expert advisors and building
a collaborative design platform to iterate a dozen or more lunar surface
mission vehicles and scenarios. In the years 2006-2007 we plan to host
regular telephone conference calls in which participants will operate design
concept lunar vehicles and mission scenarios in synchronized real-time
3D environments. Participants will comment on the designs and this commentary
will be used to iterate the virtual vehicles. During this period a parallel
effort at Colorado School of Mines’ “Project Dust” NASA H&RT research
and development effort will create granular materials and dust behavioral
simulations that will be used to create a medium fidelity virtual regolith
sandbox for this effort.