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Astronaut-Aided Construction of a Large Lunar Telescope Progress Report 7/31/02. Colorado School of Mines. Participants. Dr. Robert King CSM Mining, Engineering/robotics Dr. Jeff van Cleve Ball Aerospace Astronomer/space instruments Mark Kerr* UNM Architect

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astronaut aided construction of a large lunar telescope progress report 7 31 02

Astronaut-Aided Construction of a Large Lunar TelescopeProgress Report 7/31/02

Colorado School of Mines

  • Dr. Robert King CSM Mining, Engineering/robotics
  • Dr. Jeff van Cleve Ball Aerospace Astronomer/space instruments
  • Mark Kerr* UNM Architect
  • Mike Duke(PI) CSM Lunar Geology and Development
  • Paul van Susante* CSM Civil Engineer/Engineering systems
  • Yuki Takahashi* CSM/UC Berkeley Astrophysics/Physics
  • Michelle Judy * LaRC Aerospace Engineering

* Students

astronaut aided construction of a large lunar telescope
Astronaut-Aided Construction of a Large Lunar Telescope
  • Objectives:
  • Evaluate the possibility of construction
  • and operation of a large (25 m) telescope
  • on the Moon
  • Determine the roles of humans and
  • robots in construction and operations
  • Provide first order arguments that compare
  • a lunar telescope to similar telescopes in
  • space

Task schedule (2002):

Assemble team – May

Literature review and definition of

facility - June

Scenario development; task assignments – July

Detailed design of facility – August

Evaluation of human/robotic tasks – Sept.

Analysis of scenario – October

Preparation of final report - November


Colorado School of Mines $32,565

RASC (support of King, Duke, $34,000


LaRC (support of Judy) TBD

Ball Aerospace (support of

Van Cleve) (est.) 2,400

Mark Kerr is self-supporting

requirement for very large telescopes
Requirement for Very Large Telescopes
  • Next Generation Space Telescope will be capable at wavelengths as long as 5-10mm; mirror of 8m diameter
  • 25 m mirror capable of observations at wavelengths to 25 mm with approximately 10 times the light gathering power
  • Addition of a second large mirror or several smaller ones adds interferometric capability
  • Such facilities will provide the capability to:
    • Directly image planets around nearby stars
    • Significantly extend the age of galaxies that can be observed
rationale for lunar ir telescope
Rationale for Lunar IR Telescope
  • Environmental conditions of lunar surface are superior; environmental concerns, mostly dust, can be minimized by careful design
  • Low temperature operating conditions at lunar poles are advantageous for IR telescopes
  • Telescope facility can be augmented or improved as technology changes, with little additional infrastructure
  • Transportation costs to the Moon will be comparable to those to Earth-Sun Lagrangian points when propellants are available from lunar sources (Polar ice deposits)
lunar environment
Lunar Environment
  • Lunar environment is seismically stable
  • High vacuum; no wind vibrations
  • Permanently-shadowed craters at South Pole are very cold (<80K); nearby access to sunlit areas; no sun-avoidance required
  • Slow rotation rate provides for long exposures
  • Low gravity (1/6-g); Moon provides inertial base for rotating machinery
  • Topography useful for shielding telescopes from disruptive activities
  • Micrometeoroid impact flux ~ ½ that of free space
  • Dust is the principal environmental issue, but can be avoided by engineering design
lunar observatory concept
Lunar Observatory Concept
  • A complex of telescopes will be erected in Shackelton Crater at the Moon’s South Pole
  • The crown jewel(s) will be 25 m diameter Alt-Azimuth telescopes
  • These will be supported by 3 m telescopes that can be incorporated into an interferometric array
  • The observatory can be emplaced and expanded over a period of decades, using a common infrastructure of space transportation, surface transportation, habitats and supporting facilities
design of 25 m telescope
Design of 25 m telescope
  • Alt-azimuth design
  • Utilize superconducting bearings for rotational motions (altitude, azimuth)
  • Construct most parts of graphite-epoxy or more advanced lightweight but strong materials
  • Designed to utilize robots for construction of foundation, carrying, joining, erecting truss structures, installing mirror segments, etc.
  • Mirror elements to be demountable for resurfacing of mirror
  • Construction system designed so that pieces of telescope never touch lunar surface and are protected from dust
  • Instruments located in easily-serviced areas
  • Light-lines established for interferometric arrays
infrastructure requirements
Infrastructure Requirements
  • Space transportation system
    • Use “Lunar Gateway” architecture with transfer point at Earth-Moon L-1
    • Produce propellants from lunar polar hydrogen; processing facility located in area where contamination of telescope will not occur
    • Landing/ascent facility located at a distance and shielded by topography from telescope
  • Human support (habitat) outside permanent shadow
    • Crew of 6 on 3-6 month tours of duty
  • “Construction shack” in shadow, near telescopes
    • Crew of 2 for two week tours
  • Logistics facility for staging articles during construction
  • Surface transportation system – minimize dust
  • Power system
  • Communications facility
robotic systems requirements
Robotic Systems Requirements
  • Surface transportation of equipment from logistics area to telescopes
  • Emplacement of foundation supports
  • Erection of telescope elements, trusses, using robots attached to structure
  • Emplacement of mirror elements utilizing robotic arms
  • Sensors and actuators on mirror elements for fine adjustments
  • Designed so that any piece of telescope can be dismantled for replacement or repair
  • Robots have high level autonomy, but can be controlled by on-site humans when necessary
requirements for on site humans
Requirements for on-site humans
  • Human are required for different tasks at different stages of construction and operation
    • Site preparation – humans plan layout, identify location of foundation piers, teleoperate robots that excavate and emplace piers, verify proper emplacement of piers
    • Construction phase – humans supervise robots that construct the facility; employ observation robots to inspect and test at key times in construction sequence
    • Commissioning phase – humans observe performance as telescopes are initially activated; determine quality of operation; generate “fixes” to problems; may manufacture hardware in lunar machine shop
    • Operational phase – humans supervise calibration of instruments, instrument changeout
project activity plan
Project Activity Plan
  • May, 2002 – Assemble team
  • June, 2002 – Background literature search, understand rationale for lunar observatory, determine characteristics of observatory
  • July 2002 – Begin initial design studies for 25 m telescope; review state-of-art in erecting large space structures
  • August - September 2002 – Define detailed roles for humans, robots; define infrastructure elements
  • October – Develop detailed construction sequence
  • November – Parametric cost analysis; prepare final report
tentative outline of final report
Tentative Outline of Final Report
  • Introduction
  • Comparison of alternatives for very large telescopes (Earth, Space, Moon)
  • Lunar Environment considerations
  • Lunar observatory concept
  • Elements of telescope construction and operation
  • Evaluation of roles of humans and robots
  • Possible synergies of lunar telescopes with other activities
  • Infrastructure elements; Technology requirements
  • Preliminary cost model
  • Conclusions and Recommendations