NASA Lunar Excavation Simulation Project

Realtime 3D Simulation of Automated Lunar Excavators

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DigitalSpace was invited to join a study sponsored by NASA headquarters to create a first attempt at lunar regolith excavation simulation, with the physics of the bucket or other digging tool modeled using the Balovnev equations. Leading the study was the National Security Technologies of Las Vegas Nevada, and providing statistical analysis was Los Alamos National Laboratories of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Brad Blair of the Colorado School of Mines of Golden, Colorado, was participating as an expert in mining and the Lunar regolith. Four types of excavators were modeled and tested in simulation including a typical front loader, a bucket wheel, overhand shovel, and bucket ladder. The model of the regolith included a simple "Jell-o" simulation containing a soft upper layer and a more resistant deeper layer containg hard impacts (simulated rocks) that the digging tools encountered on their way through. No movement of simulated soil was attempted. Later, student Nader Abu El Samid at the University of Toronto took the basic simulation framework and modified it to permit the vehicles to deform a mesh representing the surface as it was disturbed by the excavators.

The backdrop lunar base was based on work by Dennis Wingo.


Movies of the Simulation

Lunar Excavation Simulation Movie 1

Lunar Excavation Simulation Movie 2

University of Toronto Simulation by Nader Abu El Samid



Files for the Simulation

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Digital Spaces - System Requirements



Documentation for the Simulation

Final Presentation in Microsoft Powerpoint Format
Zip achive containing files for the presenation.
Supplimental Documentation on logging file format.
Space usage guide.



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