5 August 2023: What are these mini Rovers upto? How do they look like? Reiner Gamma region is a fascinating mystery and one of the most distinctive features on the Moon. What is Reiner Gamma?
NASA plans to send three small rovers to the Moon in 2024 as part of its robotic exploration programme. At the same time India is getting ready for the Chandrayaan-3 mission, which would place a lander and rover on the Moon's surface.
The venture intends to show how robots can work together and operate independently without direct human input. This can potentially improve the effectiveness of upcoming space missions.
The Reiner Gamma region of the Moon will be visited by the three rovers, each of which is about the size of a regular suitcase. Approximately 14 Earth days will pass as they carry out experiments to evaluate their abilities.
What is Reiner Gamma ?
The Reiner Gamma region is a strange, swirly feature on the Moon. It's located in the Oceanus Procellarum, a large, dark plain on the near side of the Moon. The Reiner Gamma region is about 70 kilometers long and has a distinctive, tadpole-shaped appearance.
Credit: NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Jatan Space
Scientists aren't sure how the Reiner Gamma region formed.
- One theory is that it was created by a comet that crashed into the Moon billions of years ago. The comet's impact may have blasted the surface with dust and debris, which then settled into the distinctive swirl pattern we see today.
- Another theory suggest that the uppermost part of the regolith could have been modified through an interaction with falling fragments of a low-density comet nucleus.
- Yet another, and highly supported theory is that the Reiner Gamma region was formed by magnetic fields. The region has a higher magnetic field than the surrounding area, and some scientists believe that this magnetic field may have caused the swirl to form.
Some scientists suggest a combination of Crater formation due to comet or smaller debris and the magnetic fields. .
Whatever the cause, the Reiner Gamma region is a fascinating mystery. It's one of the most distinctive features on the Moon, and it's sure to continue to intrigue scientists for years to come.
What is the objective of the mission ?
The mission's objective, according to Subha Comandur, project manager for CADRE at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is to show how a network of moving robots can team up to carry out a task independently. This could fundamentally alter the way we do investigation in the future.
- Through a base station on the lander, the rovers will communicate with mission controllers on Earth to obtain general instructions.
- They will then choose a "leader" who will allocate tasks to accomplish the group objective. Each rover will choose the most secure and effective method to fulfill the work that has been assigned to it.
- The rovers will be put through a number of tests, including avoiding obstacles and driving in a sequence while maintaining their exact positions.
- Additionally, they will individually explore a predetermined area while using stereo cameras to make a topographic 3D map of it.
- The rovers will be equipped with multistatic ground-penetrating radars, which they will use to test their own intelligence and teamwork capacities.
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) - is a way to see underground without digging. It uses radio waves to create images of what's below the surface. Multistatic GPR is a type of GPR that uses multiple antennas to send and receive radio waves.
Imagine you're trying to see what's inside a box. If you only have one flashlight, you can only see a small part of the box at a time. But if you have two flashlights, you can see more of the box because you can shine the lights from different angles. Multistatic GPR is like having two flashlights for seeing underground.
What are the mini rovers made of?
The mini rovers that NASA is sending to the moon are made up of a few different parts. They have a body that is about the size of a carry-on suitcase, as mentioned earlier. The body is made of metal and plastic, and it has four wheels that help the rover move around. The rovers also have solar panels on top of their bodies, which they use to collect energy from the sun.
Inside the body of the rovers, there are a few different electronic components. These components include a computer, a camera, and a ground-penetrating radar. The computer controls the rover's movements, the camera takes pictures of the lunar surface, and the ground-penetrating radar helps the rover map the lunar surface.
The mini rovers are also equipped with a few different sensors. These sensors help the rovers detect obstacles and avoid them. They also help the rovers navigate around the lunar surface.
The rovers are equipped to endure the heat while being small and lightweight, with daytime temperatures reaching up to 114 degrees Celcius (237 degrees Fahrenheit).
Watch the video of prototyopes being tested: https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/archive/PIA25667.mp4
What difficulties are the rovers facing and how is it solved ?
The rovers' survival in the hostile temperature condition close to the Moon's equator is a real challenge. There is a threat of the rovers getting overheated and hence stopping.
But the mini rovers don't overheat because they have special features that help them stay cool. One feature that helps to keep the mini rovers cool is that they shut down every half-hour. This allows them to rest and cool off before they start up again.
The mini rovers also have special materials that help to reflect heat away from them. These materials are called "thermal blankets." The thermal blankets are made of a material that is very good at reflecting heat. This helps to keep the rovers from absorbing too much heat from the sun.
All of these features work together to keep the mini rovers from overheating on the moon. This allows them to explore the lunar surface for long periods of time without having to worry about getting too hot.