Big Steps for Mankind: Extraterrestrial Sampling and Exploration 50 Years after Apollo 11

by Zachary Mank, Engineering manager with Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, CA.,,
Robert Mueller, (M.ASCE), Senior technologist and principal investigator at NASA, and co-founder of the Kennedy Space Center Swamp Works in Cape Canaveral, FL.,,
Marika Santagata, Ph.D., (M.ASCE), Associate professor of civil engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.,,
Kris Zacny, Ph.D., President and director for exploration technology at Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, CA.,

Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2020, Vol. 24, Issue 2, Pg. 42-48

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Between June 1966 and January 1968, four Surveyor missions successfully landed on the Moon, collecting invaluable scientific data required to support the coming manned Apollo missions. Central to the goals of the program was obtaining data on the compatibility of the Apollo design with the conditions encountered on the lunar surface. Before these missions, the physical and mechanical properties of the lunar regolith (unconsolidated rocky material covering bedrock) could only be inferred from photographs, landing data, and boulder track recordings. Based on the controlled bearing, impact, and trenching tests performed remotely from Earth using the Soil Mechanics Surface Sampler (SMSS) deployed by Surveyor 3 and Surveyor 7, the first set of geotechnical parameters became available from which a lunar regolith model could be developed. These missions marked the start of geotechnical exploration beyond Earth.

Subject Headings: Lunar materials | Material properties | Soil surveys | Space exploration | Moon | Geotechnical engineering | Data collection | Mechanical properties


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