German Network for Lunar Science and Exploration
Research Interests and Capabilities
Germany is an Associate Member of SSERVI. The research focuses on activities in preparation for and in realization of robotic and human missions to the Moon.
The Moon has been visited and studied in the past, we even have samples from the Moon, but there are still unanswered questions concerning
• the Moon’s origin: is it compelling essential or random?
• the internal structure: how works the lunar mantle zone and does the Moon have a core?
• the reason for the dichotomy: why is the farside crust thicker; why are the centre of mass and the center of figure apart; what is the composition of the highland crust and how are rock forming minerals distributed in the highland crust?
• the volcanic evolution: how changes the composition of lava with time; how works dense magma through a less dense crust; what is the time scale of volcanism, what are the sources of volcanism; what are the heat source and processes for very young volcanic events?
• the characteristics of the lunar debris cover (regolith) and its interaction with the interplanetary environment: what are the characteristics of the lunar exosphere; how reacts the atmosphereless Moon with radiation and interplanetary particles.
• the origin, nature, and recent processes of volatiles (mostly OH or H2O) on and in the lunar surface and its importance for further lunar exploration.
From the German Aerospace Research Center’s (DLR’s) point of view the ten most important lunar exploration objectives are the following:
1. Develop and validate navigation and communication capabilities
• Autonomous GNC
• Moon-Earth communication
• Communication and navigation on the Moon (e.g. Moon Positioning System)
2. Demonstrate descent and landing capabilities
• Soft precision landing
3. Develop and validate surface mobility including advanced robotic technology
• Robotic assembly
• Autonomous Rover with scientific P/L
4. Provide life support systems and habitats
• Closed loop life support systems
• Agricultural systems
• Research and counter measures of biomedical effects
• Construction and infrastructure engineering
5. Develop and validate power supply systems
6. Prepare Lunar Resource Utilisation
• Characterize resources (e.g. dating of samples)
• Mapping of lunar resources
• Demonstrate the feasibility of ISRU technologies for Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Oxygen
7. Characterize the lunar environment
• Characterize lunar atmosphere and monitor space weather
• Mapping of lunar surface (Lunar information system)
• Monitor seismological activities
• Identify effects of lunar dust
• Characterize thermal environment and volatile content (HP3)
• Sample return capabilities
8. Characterize thermal environment and volatile content Mitigate environmental hazard
• Monitoring of space weather and radiation
• Monitoring of space debris
• Dust mitigation
• Research on impacts of long-term exposure
• Radiation protection
9. Improve knowledge of lunar Geology
• Identify sample sites
• Lunar structure
• Lunar interior
• Volcanic evolution
• Origin of remnant magnetization
• Subsurface stratigraphy
• Lunar mineralogy and chemistry
• Transition regolith/megaregolith
10. Satisfy public engagement
• Two-way interaction with live video streams
• Involvement of educational institutions
• P/L capacity for educational experiments
In particular, this leads to the following major objectives of lunar research and exploration:
• the exploration and utilization of the Moon in the 21st century;
• the solution fundamental problems of planetology concerning the origin and evolution of terrestrial bodies;
• understanding the uniqueness of the Earth-Moon System and its formation and evolution.
• deciphering the lunar regolith as record for space environmental conditions.
• mapping lunar resources.
Science of the Moon, on the Moon and from the Moon
• Understanding of the lunar surface geology and interior in terms of a comparative data evaluation approach based on past and current mission contributions and its results.
• Understanding of the specific nature of the lunar regolith as the uppermost surface reflecting the lunar geochemistry and as an available source for materials.
• Understanding the Moon’s origin in context with the evolution of the Earth-Moon-System.
This research will relay on the data bases already existing or to be collected in the near future as a result of ongoing or confirmed international missions.
• Precise highest resolution geological geophysical and geochemical global mapping of the Moon
• Monitoring of the lunar environment
• In-situ and rover exploration on the lunar surface and subsurface in terms of heat flow, seismisivity and rock/soil and volatile analysis.
• Sample return
• Astronomy from the Moon
This research will rely on upcoming robotic missions and lunar networks.
Exploration of the Moon
• Development of exploration tools in terms of in-orbit and in-situ robotic vehicles and instrumentation.
• Development of lunar road maps for mobility resource utilization on the Moon.
• Earth-Moon communication and data transfer.
• Development of biomedical support systems and lunar environment simulation for human applications.
• Outreach: the Moon as part of Earth
• Development of tools for resource utilization on the Moon.
• Concepts for lunar infrastructure engineering.
• Development of life support systems and being on the Moon
Research capabilities and technologies comprise geosciences, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, astronomy, remote sensing, sensor systems, robotic, measurement instrumentation, satellite systems, landing systems, navigation, operations, communication, dedicated lab-capabilities and capabilities for terrestrial analog investigations.
In the spirit of fostering collaboration between SSERVI partners we envisage to exchange scientists both senior scientist to provide experience and increase scientific and technical knowledge to the above topics as well as young researchers to improve their background and educate them for lunar exploration. The exchange of scientists foresees visits at SSERVI in Ames and other partner institutions as well as DLR to host scientists from SSERVI partners.
Members of the German Network of Lunar Science and Exploration are research institutions, universities and industrial companies that are involved in lunar research and technology development. On request of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), the Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin is coordinating the lunar science and exploration activities related to this cooperation.