Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020
Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020

Oral presentations and abstracts


This merged MITM12-13/TP13 session (co-sponsored by space agencies, ILEWG EuroMoonMars & IAF ITACCUS) will cover the preparation for future missions and sustainable outposts in deep space, Moon and Earth . It will be interdisciplinary , open to new stakeholders towards Moon and Mars Villages, and include subsessions:
1) Future instruments for deep space and lunar science
NASA, ESA, JAXA, ISRO, KARI and other Agencies have active Lunar science instruments programs and concepts. The Artemis and the Gateway programs have also generated a new drive to develop Lunar surface science instruments and technology demonstrations. Ahead of the human return to the Moon, commercial landers are expected to deliver science packages to the Lunar surface as early as 2021. Teams of Instruments already selected for flight as well as concept being developed are encouraged to submit abstracts and get feedback from the wider community.

2) Sustainable outposts for deep space, Moon and Mars.
We invite contributions on various uses of Moon, Mars and planetary outposts : science, technology, international cooperation, resource utilisation, economic development, human/robotic partnership, innovation, inspiration, education, entertainment, tourism, culture and societal benefits. We invite scientists, engineers, designers, architects, astronauts, research agencies, industries from (new) space and non-space to participate. We shall also discuss habitats projects for analogue simulations such as MDRS, HiSeas, LunAres, IgLuna, ESA Luna, MAMBA, EMMIHS, ILEWG EuroMoonMars.

Co-organized by TP
Convener: Bernard Foing | Co-conveners: Brook Lakew, Mehdi Benna, Lynn Carter, Tilak Hewagama, Sabrina Kerber, Marc Heemskerk, Anna Sitnikova
Chairperson: Bernard Foing, Brook Lakew, Mehdi Benna, Sabrina Kerber, Marc Heemskerk
Claudio Pernechele, Gabriele Cremonese, Daniela Fantinel, Alice Lucchetti, Luigi Lessio, Matteo Massironi, Maurizio Pajola, Lorenzo Paoletti, Riccardo Pozzobon, Cristina Re, Bortolino Saggin, Diego Scaccabarozzi, Emanuele Simioni, Cristoforo Abbattista, Emilio Banfi, Luca Consolaro, Cesare Dionisio, Mark Kuijpers, Daniele Mura, and Stefano Piantone and the BIPS TEAM

A bifocal panoramic stereoscopic camera (BIPS) has been designed a realized as a terrestrial prototype. The core of the camera is a novel Bifocal Panoramic Lens (BPL) we designed and realized, which is able to carry out a panoramic field of 360° in azimuth, 100° in elevation (+60°/-40° with respect to the horizon) and, simultaneously, an enlargement of a part of the panoramic field. All of that using an unique image sensor and avoiding any moving part. BIPS consists of a twin couple of BPLs settled in an appropriate stereoscopic baseline. It allows the monitoring of the surrounding environment in stereoscopic (3D) mode and, simultaneously, to capture a higher resolution stereoscopic images to analyze scientific cases. If mounted on a planetary rover, BIPS merge engineering stereoscopic capabilities for autonomous driving with an optical stereoscopic channel for scientific purpose, making it a new paradigm in the planetary rovers' framework.

The operational aims include the identification of boulders, crevasses and other surfaces that can be obstacles for rover trafficability, in addition to the 3D reconstruction of exploration sites for improving situation awareness during both roving and human operations. On the other hand, the correct and detailed 3D reconstruction of exploring sites allows detailed measurements of many geological features such as: sedimentary structures (strata attitudes, geometry and thickness); fracturing networks (attitudes and persistence); folds and faults systems (orientation, vergence and displacement); veining systems (frequency, orientation and thickness); mounds, vents and ridges (slope and aspect); boulders (size frequency distribution). All these measurements are pivotal for the understanding of tectonic, sedimentologic, volcanic, erosive, fluid-rock interaction and impact processes on planetary surfaces.

In this paper we describe the optical characteristics of a BPL, the realized terrestrial BIPS, the stereoscopic calibration and some possible scientific cases within the lunar exploration framework.

How to cite: Pernechele, C., Cremonese, G., Fantinel, D., Lucchetti, A., Lessio, L., Massironi, M., Pajola, M., Paoletti, L., Pozzobon, R., Re, C., Saggin, B., Scaccabarozzi, D., Simioni, E., Abbattista, C., Banfi, E., Consolaro, L., Dionisio, C., Kuijpers, M., Mura, D., and Piantone, S. and the BIPS TEAM: Bifocal Panoramic Stereoscopic Camera for Lunar Exploration, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-557,, 2020.

Mehdi Benna, Nicholas Schmerr, Menelaos Sarantos, Hop Bailey, Daniel Gershman, Mihaly Horanyi, Xiaoli Sun, and Jamey Szalay

The Lunar Environment Monitoring Station (LEMS) is an instrument concept funded by NASA’s Development of Advanced Lunar Instrumentation (DALI) Program, and undergoing maturation at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. LEMS has been proposed to the NASA's recent call for Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM).

LEMS is a compact, autonomous, self-sustaining and long-lasting instrument suite that enables in situ, continuous, long-term monitoring of the lunar exosphere and of the most relevant natural and manmade controlling processes (infall of interplanetary dust particles (IDP), influx of solar wind and magnetospheric particles, EUV irradiation, interior outgassing, disturbances by landers and human surface activities). LEMS can be delivered to the surface of the Moon by crewed or robotic missions. Once deployed (on a deck or directly on the surface), LEMS will operate day and night for a nominal duration of 2 years without requiring any additional support or resources from the carrying asset.

LEMS integrates a Mass Spectrometer, a Laser Retro-reflector Array, a Lunar Micrometeoroid Monitor, a Lunar Energetic Ion Analyzer, and a 3-axis Seismometer. These sensors will collect concurrent observations that will lead to a comprehensive, time-resolved, and geographically-localized characterization of the composition and dynamics of volatiles gases in the lunar exosphere as a response to variations in solar forcing, IDP flux, seismicity, and known manmade events. Furthermore, owing to its expected longevity, LEMS will also improve upon the success of the Apollo Passive Seismic Experiment (PSE) by providing a new generation of seismological measurements that will address unanswered questions by the PSEs. These questions include the size and state of the lunar core, homogeneity of the mantle, variation in crustal thickness, the mechanism for deep moonquakes, and the relationship between shallow seismicity and the current tectonic state of the lunar crust.

With its complementary and integrated multi-sensors and its autonomous concept of operation, LEMS is a science-enabling investigation that combines capabilities, in a single duplicable instrument package. The duplicative nature of the LEMS design enables a network of stations that focuses on exospheric and geophysical measurements at the Moon to become viable options. Finally, the self-sustaining architecture of LEMS provides a model design of future payloads that can take advantage of more commercial or scientific flight opportunities to the Moon while requiring no further support for operation from their carrying assets.

How to cite: Benna, M., Schmerr, N., Sarantos, M., Bailey, H., Gershman, D., Horanyi, M., Sun, X., and Szalay, J.: The Lunar Environment Monitoring Station (LEMS), Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-60,, 2020.

Marine Joulaud, Jessica Flahaut, Diego Urbina, Hemanth H. Madakashira, Gen Ito, János Biswas, and Simon Sheridan

1. Introduction

Lunar volatiles, such as water, are considered to be a crucial resource for In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) in using the Moon as an enabling platform for future space exploration. As water is most likely to be found in the form of ice at the lunar poles (temperature of stability in vacuum: 110K [1]), multiple missions target the South Pole cold traps [2]. With challenging conditions (rough topography, low illumination, low temperatures, and limited Earth visibility; [3] and references within), the South Pole comprises numerous PSR (Permanently Shadowed Regions) which are cold enough to capture and retain volatiles such as water ice (annual average temperatures of 40K [2]). Funded by the EU program Horizon 2020, Space Applications Services coordinates the LUVMI-X (LUnar Volatiles Mobile Instrument) project, where the company develops a robotic platform and international partners develop a dedicated payload suite [4], aimed at sampling and analyzing lunar volatiles in these polar regions. LUVMI-X is a commercial rover with modular interfaces to facilitate the integration of payloads from the community. The goal of this paper is to find suitable landing sites and study areas for this rover, that are both scientifically interesting and technically reachable [2,3].

2. Selection of criteria and data

Available remote sensing imagery for the lunar South Pole (Table 1) was downloaded from the PDS or corresponding instruments ’websites and added into a Geographic Information System (GIS). LUVMI-X scientific objectives and technical specifications were then translated into a list of criteria and computed in our GIS [3,4]. Using ArcGIS, reclassified data were overlaid with different weights to define and rank compliant areas which respect the established constraints (Table 1). Regions Of Interest (ROI) were finally identified by mapping out compliant areas > 80 km2 (i.e., areas allegedly large enough to hold a 10km-diameter landing ellipse. This arbitrary ellipse size is based on the technical abilities of current commercial landers).

3. Landing sites ranking and selection

Results of the GIS analysis (Figure 1) show six identified ROI (red) for the LUVMI-X mission, which are compared with previous ROI from the literature (Lemelin et al, 2014, stars [6]; Flahaut et al, 2019, pink [2]). First, none of the LUVMI-X ROI intersects with Lemelin’s landing sites because the latter are only in PSR; Lemelin's sites do not meet the technical specifications of the LUVMI-X rover (areas without illumination are not accessible for a solar-powered rover). However, parts of Flahaut’s ROI overlap with the LUVMI-X sites of this study. Flahaut’s largest ROI (Amundsen, Ibn Bajja) do not or only partially overlay with LUVMI-X ROI as Flahaut’s study only considers surface water ice (with a temperature of 110K maximum). This study is intended for rovers unable to drill, which is not the case for LUVMI-X (drilling is possible down to 20cm).

The identified ROI are further ranked based on areas and statistics on Sun and Earth visibilities, temperatures, and H signatures. ROI 1 has the best mean Sun and Earth visibilities, but its amount of non-compliant pixels and the temperature are too high. Furthermore, its area is too restricted to hold a perfectly circular ellipse of 10 km, which is also true for ROI 6. ROI 2 and 3 are discarded as they contain high percentages of non-compliant pixels. H signatures from Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) and water ice signatures from Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) [7] of ROI 4 and 5 were then compared. ROI 4 seems to present more evidence of surface water ice, which is a strategic asset in case LUVMI-X encounters drilling issues. This ROI presents the highest score in H signatures (LPNS, LEND) and the lowest temperatures while comprising the best site selected by Flahaut et al [2].

4. Perspectives for LUVMI-X

The requirements from some CLPS landers include slopes < 10°, which is larger than used in our initial study [8]. Future work includes revision of our ROI with an eventually relaxed set of parameters, and selection of 1-3 test sites for establishing traverses based on the mission’s initial scenario.

Traverses will be established by listing different specifications based on LUVMI-X concept of operations and scientific objectives, in order to identify “waypoints” (stops along the traverse). High resolution mosaics from the LROC’s Narrow Angle Camera (resolution of 1m/px) and LOLA 20m/px DEM will be used to map potential hazards and check PSR accessibility. The established waypoints should then be linked either by minimizing the used energy or maximizing Sun and/or Earth visibilities and will be used as an input to parametric and thermal models of the rover.

5. References

[1] Paige D. et al. (2010). Science, 330, 479-480.

[2] Crawford J. et al. (2020). Lunar Resources.

[3] Flahaut J. et al. (2020). Planetary and Space Science, 104750.

[4] Gancet J. et al. (2019). LUVMI and LUXMI-X Concept and extension. In the proc. of ESA ASTRA Symposium.

[5] Mazarico E. et al. (2011). Icarus, 211.

[6] Lemelin et al. (2014). Planetary and Space Science, 101.

[7] Li S. et al. (2018). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 115 (36).

[8] Astrobotic. (2020). Peregrine Lunar Lander, Payload User’s Guide.

How to cite: Joulaud, M., Flahaut, J., Urbina, D., Madakashira, H. H., Ito, G., Biswas, J., and Sheridan, S.: Candidate landing sites and possible traverses at the South Pole of the Moon for the LUVMI-X rover, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-619,, 2020.

David Vogt, Susanne Schröder, Heinz-Wilhelm Hübers, Lutz Richter, Michael Deiml, Markus Glier, Peter Weßels, and Jörg Neumann


With the confirmation of water ice in the lunar polar regions [1], the Moon has recently come into the focus of attention of international space agencies again. Volatiles, specifically water and hydrogen, are important resources both for life support and for potential applications as fuels and propellants for spacecraft. In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) of volatiles could significantly reduce the costs of a sustained presence on the Moon and could be beneficial for the future human deep space exploration of the solar system [2]. The detection of volatiles is therefore an important scientific goal for future robotic missions to the Moon.

The LUVMI-X project (Lunar Volatiles Mobile Instrumentation – Extended) is developing an initial system design as well as payload and mobility breadboards for the detection of volatiles in the lunar polar region on a small, lightweight rover [3]. The LUVMI-X rover is shown in Figure 1. One proposed scientific payload is VOILA (Volatiles Identification by Laser Ablation), which is jointly developed by OHB System AG (OHB), Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH), and the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Optical Sensor Systems (DLR-OS). VOILA will use laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to analyze the elemental composition of the lunar surface, with a special focus on detecting and quantifying hydrogen and oxygen as indicators for water.

LIBS is a versatile technique that requires only optical access to its target [4]. A LIBS spectrum is obtained within seconds, making it well-suited for quick analyses of multiple targets in proximity to the rover. LIBS was first used in space by the ChemCam instrument on board NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars [5, 6]. The first LIBS instrument on the Moon was supposed to operate on board the Pragyan rover of India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission [7]. However, the Chandrayaan-2 lander failed a soft landing in September 2019.

Here, we present a summary of the VOILA instrument design and its intended capabilities for volatiles detection at the lunar south pole.

Instrument Design

With an expected mass of about 3 kg, VOILA is designed to be more lightweight than the ChemCam instrument, but heavier and slightly more complex than the LIBS instrument designed for the Chandrayaan-2 mission. It will include an optical head with a focusing mechanism designed for working distances between 30 cm and 50 cm, which allows for compensation of uneven terrain or different rover configurations. The optical head is mounted at the front of the rover body and can rotate horizontally to select multiple targets of interest at each rover location.

VOILA uses an actively Q-switched pulsed Yb:YAG laser developed by LZH with a pulse energy of at least 15 mJ at a wavelength of 1030 nm to ablate sample material, generating a laser-induced plasma that can be spectrally analyzed. The VOILA spectrometer will have a wavelength range from 350 nm to 790 nm at a spectral resolution of about 0.5 nm, thereby covering atomic and ionic emission lines of the major rock forming elements (O, Si, Al, Fe, Mg, Ca, Na, K, Ti) and of hydrogen.

LIBS measurements with VOILA are intended for the analysis of the topmost lunar surface layers. Simple depth profiling within millimeters could be achieved by repeated ablation of the same location on the surface. A single shot is expected to produce a crater of several millimeters depth due to the force of the outgoing shockwave in the regolith.

Laboratory Studies

Preliminary LIBS studies in near-vacuum (0.1 Pa of air) were made with the high-resolution LIBS setup at DLR-OS to determine the VOILA instrument requirements. Figure 2 shows a LIBS spectrum of lunar regolith simulant Exolith LMS-1 in which all major rock forming elements could be observed within 350 nm to 790 nm. A laser energy of 15 mJ/pulse was found to produce a very intense plasma when focused to a spot of 300 µm diameter. For a basalt/gypsum mixture with a water concentration of about 1.5 wt%, the H I line at 656.3 nm was successfully detected, see Figure 3. The signal to noise ratio is about 4.3 for this line, indicating that even lower concentrations can be detected. Furthermore, the high-resolution echelle spectrometer used for the measurements has a low throughput that will be exceeded by the VOILA instrument itself.


VOILA is a new LIBS instrument for the detection of volatiles at the lunar south pole. Initial experiments show that LIBS can be employed at low pressures and that clear signals of all major rock-forming elements and of hydrogen can be obtained in the specified spectral range of VOILA. The pulse energy of VOILA is at least 15 mJ, which is achievable by the laser prototype developed by LZH. The successful detection of hydrogen is promising, but the instrument should also be qualified with measurements of real water ice at low concentrations. Future studies should also investigate whether water ice can be distinguished from other hydrogen and oxygen sources. New results obtained with the VOILA demonstration setup developed by OHB, LZH and DLR will be presented at the conference.


This research was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 822018.


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How to cite: Vogt, D., Schröder, S., Hübers, H.-W., Richter, L., Deiml, M., Glier, M., Weßels, P., and Neumann, J.: VOILA on LUVMI-X: Volatiles Detection in the Lunar Polar Region with Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-780,, 2020.

Geoffrey D. Bromiley, Nicola J. Potts, and Richard A. Brooker

The presence of ‘water’ (H-related defects), F, Cl and other volatiles in mare basalts and associated lunar volcanic glasses implies that lunar magmas were variably volatile-bearing[1]. Mineral-melt partition coefficients for each species can, in theory, be used to calculate volatile contents of lunar mantle source regions for these magmas. However, available partitioning data is largely based on studies in model terrestrial systems. Aside from differences in composition, the lunar mantle likely had an oxygen fugacity (fO2) at least 2 log units lower than the Earth’s upper mantle[3] and was either at or near Fe-saturation[1]. fO2 can have a fundamental influence on ‘water’ speciation in silicate melts, with H2 and C-H related defects stabilised under reducing conditions, at the expense of (OH)-  defects which dominate in oxidising terrestrial conditions[4]. As such, partitioning data in model, reduced lunar systems is required to accurately interpret measured volatile contents in lunar materials.

We have developed a novel experimental design which allows us, for the first time, to constrain mineral-melt volatile partition coefficients under lunar mantle conditions. Experiments were performed at 2-3 GPa, 1350-1500°C, and at fO2 of IW-5 to IW+2 log units, in a system based on an average Apollo green glass[1]. Near-liquidus experiments were run to constrain olivine- and pyroxene-melt partition coefficients (Dmin/melt) for water, F and Cl, using EPMA and SIMS data. As shown in Fig. 1, values of Dmin/melt are comparable to those from experiments in more oxidised, terrestrial systems. F (and possibly Cl) incorporation in pyroxene and olivine is correlated with trivalent cation (Ti3+, Al3+, Cr3+) content, suggesting coupled substitution mechanisms[5], and is also dependent on the extent of melt polymerisation. However, fO2 has little discernible influence on partitioning behaviour. This is consistent with infrared and Raman spectra which show that (OH)- defects are the dominant mechanism for water incorporation in both silicate melt and coexisting mineral phases, with only a small proportion of water present as H2 defects in the most reduced, highest pressure samples. Higher pressures can stabilise a greater proportion of ‘water’ as H2, although this is unlikely to be an important mechanism for water storage in all but the deepest parts for the lunar mantle, as noted in previous thermodynamic models [6].

Partitioning data can be used to re-interpret volatile contents of lunar mantle source regions. A batch melting calculation with 4-8% partial melting of a lunar mantle cumulate of 50% olivine, 25% pigeonite and 25% orthopyroxene[7], based on volatile concentrations from olivine-hosted melt inclusions and lunar volcanic glass beads[7,8], implies a lunar mantle source region with 2-8 ppm F, 0.07-0.3 ppm Cl, and <15 ppm H2O. This represents 95% loss of both F and water, and 98% loss of Cl in the lunar mantle source relative to bulk silicate Earth (BSE). However, postulating a bulk lunar volatile content based on mare basalt mantle source regions is, of itself, misleading. During LMO solidification, volatiles will have been partitioned between crystallising phases (cumulates) and remaining melt, with the last dregs of magma likely solidifying as the hypothesised KREEP material. Any specific mantle source region is not necessarily representative of the bulk silicate Moon (BSE). To assess the effects of LMO solidification, we used partitioning datahere and [10] to simulate incremental solidification using a simplified crystallisation sequence[11], for up to 97% solidification. Resulting volatile contents, and volatile ratios in cumulates formed at each stage of LMO solidification are shown in fig. 2, based on an arbitrary starting volatile concentration in the LMO of 1000 ppm for each. For up to 50% solidification, volatile content of cumulates remains very low. This drives volatile enrichment in the LMO, and formation of volatile-enriched, pyroxene-rich cumulates during latter stages of solidification. Differences in partitioning result in fractionation in cumulates, such that F is highly enriched relative to Cl, and slightly enriched relative to H2O (Fig. 2B). At 97% solidification, water content of final cumulates is <60 ppm, and F just over 120 ppm. The final dregs of the LMO, as expected, are volatile enriched (>2000 ppm for each), but with no significant fractionation of volatiles (Fig 2C).

Batch melting calculations show that melt 1, formed by 10% melting of cumulate (Fig. 2A) contains 241 ppm H2O, 428 ppm F and 36 ppm Cl (again, based on 1000 ppm of each in the original LMO), with F/Cl =12, and F/H2O =1.8. A 10% melt 2 contains 382 ppm H2O, 870 ppm F and 109 ppm Cl, a F/Cl =8 and F/H2O =2.3. Therefore, partial melts of LMO cumulates partially retain the strong signatures of LMO solidification. Addition of a KREEP component will increase absolute volatile contents in lunar magmas, and dilute volatile ratios. However, our model predicts that pristine lunar mantle melts will have greatly elevated F/Cl, and high F/H2O ratios compared to the BSM and original LMO. Back-calculating LMO volatile contents for melt 2, using published lunar magma volatile contents[7,8], implies an original LMO with 38-88 ppm F, 16-26 ppm Cl, and 315-2441 ppm H2O. These values overlap those of the BSE, and require only minor additional fractionation of Cl relative to F. Modelling based on new partitioning data implies, therefore, that (1) LMO solidification had a significant effect on volatile distribution and fractionation within the lunar interior; (2) that signatures of LMO are retained in later mantle melts; (3) that the high lunar F/Cl[9] may reflect coupled effects of accretion of the Earth and later LMO solidification, and (3) that the Moon could be less volatile-depleted than previously estimated. These observations are consistent with a model where lunar volatiles are inherited from the early Earth.

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Acknowledgements: Work supported by the UK National Environmental Research Council NE/M000346/1 and IMF597/0516 (to Bromiley). Brooker was funded by the NERC Thematic Grant consortium NE/M000419/1

How to cite: Bromiley, G. D., Potts, N. J., and Brooker, R. A.: F, Cl and 'water' mineral-melt partitioning in a reduced, model lunar system: what does the ‘volatile’ content of lunar rocks tell us?, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-156,, 2020.

Sandhya Rao and Sreemon Chowdhury

With recent scientific experiments carried out and results have shown an immense studies in
operation in the complex lunar environment and exploiting the moon base as a scientific platform
for both research and major challenges in exploration. Notion Robotics Lab proposes a highly
advanced lunar lander to prepare future missions on moon. The scientific areas for investigation
on the lunar lander include the radiation environmental and its effect, dust, plasma, the most
important being the properties of moon dust and its effect on human intervention. Notion
Robotics Lab will propose a payload which interfaces the information and the boundary
conditions. This paper discusses the scientific objectives for the futuristic mission which
emphasizes human robot exploration and builds a prototype scientific payload to be part of the
mission and also design of scientific instruments.
Notion Robotics Lab has developed the sophisticated autonomous co-operative rovers with
multiple intelligence systems to study life on lunar base and capable of handling multiple
decisions without human interference. This rover will be built as per the map of the terrains in
the lunar base thus operating different tasks. With advancement of different payloads and
scientific instruments the rover may able to map the large tracts of the surface thus do complex
tasks and experiments. Notion Robotics Lab plans to execute with the partnership with
Universities and Space Agencies thus proposing broader experiments in futuristic lunar mission.
Keywords:- Autonomous Co-operative Rover, Artificial Intelligence, Scientific Instruments,
Understanding Life, Lunar Lander

How to cite: Rao, S. and Chowdhury, S.: Scientific Co-operative Rover with Artificial Intelligence for Futuristic Scientific Experiments on Moon, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1124,, 2020.

Sustainable MoonMars Outposts and Habitats
Marc Heemskerk, Charlotte Pouwels, Sabrina Kerber, Eibhlin Downes, Robert Heemskerk, and Bernard Foing

In May 2021, a group of students and young professionals from EuroMoonMars will construct a lunar-analogue habitat inside a lava tube in Iceland, known as CHILL-ICE.

As a preparation for semi-permanent humanned missions to the lunar surface, analogue field tests on Earth will greatly improve the chance of a mission success. Looking at prospective habitat locations in or on the lunar surface, lava tubes may present an excellent opportunity in terms of safety and efficiency. These locally occurring features provide a rigid structure with a solid ground, and therefore offer protection from radiation, temperature variations, regolith, and micrometeorite impacts [1]. Furthermore, the unaltered rocks and minerals inside lunar lava tube systems will grant a unique insight into the origin of the Moon, and with that, the Earth [2].

Lava Tubes

Lava tubes on Earth are most commonly found in areas with deep-mantle volcanic activity, such as ‘hot spots’: places where mantle plumes arrive at the surface (Hawaii, Iceland, Canary Islands). Geochemically speaking, the basaltic rocks present at these locations on Earth are quite comparable to their lunar counterparts in major element compositions. As most of the larger lava tubes on Earth are located on oceanic islands, they are highly suited to explore the psychological factors of being remotely distanced from the rest of the Earth. Colder regions, such as on Iceland or at the high peaks of Mauna Loa on Hawaii, are preferred for analogue habitats due to less biochemical weathering of the environment. The high latitude of Iceland further aids the lunar-day simulation aspect of an analogue habitat, as there can be over 20 hours of sunlight in the summer, and only 4 hours of sunlight in the winter. The EuroMoonMars and future EXTAR teams are therefore planning to set up a lunar-analogue habitat inside a lava tube on Iceland. 

Earlier campaigns

In September 2018, a reconnaissance campaign was organized to scout multiple lava fields across Iceland for their suitability to host a lunar analog habitat [3]. The most promising site found was the Surtshellir-Stefanshellir cave system in the Hallmundarhraun lava flow in the Western part of Iceland, see Figure 1. At the easternmost part of the Stefanshellir lava tube, there is a large open gallery with a relatively flat surface within the tube. This would be an optimal location for the construction of a lava tube habitat.