Regolith Testbed

NASA Ames Research Center

Lunar Lab and Regolith Testbeds at NASA Ames

The SSERVI-managed Lunar Lab and Regolith Testbeds at NASA Ames are helping NASA understand the basic effects of dust exposure in a simulated analog environment. Initiated by the 2009 Centennial Challenge Regolith Mining Competition, the testbeds have been used year-round by researchers seeking a high-fidelity environment to test hardware designs intended for the lunar surface.

The facility has been expanded to include a lunar lab with multiple testbeds and a variety of lunar simulants. In addition to having approximately 8 tons of JSC-1A lunar lowlands simulant, the world’s largest collection of this material, the facility also contains more than 12 tons of LHS-1 lunar highlands simulant. Equipped with a new dust mitigation and safety system, the testbeds can be configured and customized for specific research investigations. The lunar lab is currently being used as a test environment for the next phases of the Artemis Program, to conduct studies on optical sensing, drill testing, ISRU identification and extraction techniques, and for remote robotic outreach activities.

Lunar Regolith Testbed at NASA Ames Research Center

Current Testbed Configurations

JSC-1A Sandbox: 8 tons of simulant

JSC-1A Sandbox: 8 tons of simulant

→ 13 feet x 13 feet x 1.5 feet
(4 meter x 4 meter x 0.5 meter)

LHS-1 Sandbox: 20 tons of simulant

LHS-1 Sandbox: 12 tons of simulant

→ 62 feet x 13 feet x 1 feet
(19 meter x 4.0 meter x 0.3 meter)

Iterative testing in an analogue environment can quickly drive design improvements for a variety of science and technology projects. The lunar lab is accelerating innovation—from idea generation and experimentation to implementation and commercialization. Some hardware and environmental testing scenarios include, but are not limited to, surface system interface and mobility, dust exposure and mitigation, terrain relative navigation sensors, regolith handling and sampling, additive printing and sintering technology development, electrical couplers and interfaces, granular mechanics, surface physics, and robotics integration.

The Testbeds are available to the planetary science community, including commercial customers. Current and past users include: NASA VIPER Mission; NASA Ames Research Center Intelligent Systems Division and Planetary Systems Branch; Universal Studios, and SSERVI Research Teams.

The Lunar Lab and Regolith Testbedis available for use.

If you think the Lunar Lab or Regolith Testbed could help your research efforts, contact Joseph Minafra for availability and pricing.