Home South pole ice Trident is the mother of all out-of-the-world drills, designed to dig deep into the moon

Trident is the mother of all out-of-the-world drills, designed to dig deep into the moon


It’s the Artemis program that will put the human boots back on the moon, and for most people that means the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion capsule that will transport the astronauts there. But Artemis is an extremely complex program, and the number of technologies developed to support it is simply astounding.

Starting this week, we’ll begin our journey through the long list of less visible, but equally important, pieces of gear destined for the Moon, and we’ll do so with something called the Trident.

But first, a little history. During the days of the Apollo program, although the 11th mission was the most publicized (it was, after all, the first to reach and land on the satellite), it was probably Apollo 15 that was the most important. . That’s when NASA deployed to the surface of the Moon and used the Lunar Roving Vehicle, but also something called ALSD.

ALSD stands for Apollo Lunar Surface Drill, and it was a battery-powered rotary percussion tool used to hammer the surface at a speed of 280 rotations and 2,270 strokes per minute. The thing was so powerful that she could pierce basalt, even if she didn’t have to and had to be content with lunar regolith. It was also used by the Apollo 16 and 17 astronauts.

Artemis missions will also have a similar tool. It’s called Trident and it’s designed by Honeybee Robotics, one of NASA’s former partners in this field.

Trident, although being a name, is also an acronym. It’s supposed to mean The Regolith and Ice Drill for Exploring New Terrain, which sort of spoils the whole mystery of its mission – a tool meant to help find ice and other resources while digging in the Moon.

This is necessary because this time, NASA does not plan to send all the resources that future Artemis missions will need from Earth, but when things really start up there, they do plan to make full use of a concept called In -Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) – and ice will be an important commodity for astronauts.

Much like the ALSD, Trident is a rotary hammer drill, but unlike its ancestor, it does not need humans to operate it. It weighs 16 kg (35 pounds) and should be able to dig a hole 1 meter deep (3.3 feet) in 10 cm (4 inch) punctures – this approach allows for a more accurate determination of the depth of the substances d. ‘interest. found in the ground.

The material may, depending on its manufacturer, “Capture and assess volatile species, including water, from cryogenic solids located in the top meter of the lunar regolith. ” The collected samples are transferred to what is called an oven, “Where the water cooks and can be captured for later use. “

The first time a version of the drill will be deployed on the Moon, it will be during the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment-1 (PRIME-1) mission, which is scheduled to depart on an as yet undetermined date (but before the first Artemis mission only reaches the Moon in 2024), as an ISRU demonstration on the satellite.

Then, the drill will make the trip again as part of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), towards the South Pole of the Moon in 2023.

As of yet, there is no mention of the mission Artemis will use it for.

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