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Powering rovers by High Intensity Laser Induction on Planets (PHILIP)

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 11:07
Contract Nr.: 
GSP Ident.: 
Lunar Lander
Start Date: 
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
End Date: 
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Scope of the study was to investigate the possibility to design a wireless power transfer system from the lander to the rover, based on laser technology, to:

  • Avoid the use of nuclear powering systems, such as the plutonium Multi Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) accommodated onboard the NASA/JPL MSL Curiosity Rover, due to the constraints imposed by the use of radioactive materials

  • Extend the exploration capabilities towards areas in which solar collection is problematic, such as in the Moon PSRs (Permanently Shaded Regions): the exploration of PSRs implies that the batteries – charged via a solar photovoltaic panel- would need to be massive to allow the rover to penetrate deep in the PSR and to frequently get out of the PSR to recharge batteries

    A laser-power-supplied rover, in fact, could penetrate easily up to 15 km in the PSR being constantly supplied with power by the lander. Such laser systems may have also the capability of pointing with centimeter accuracy over several kilometers, ensuring an uninterrupted power supply of the rover from the lander. It has to be remarked that several studies show that a HILPB system has the capability to deliver energy indefinitely to remote vehicles and crafts such as climbers, small demo rovers, kites, quadrocopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, thereby increasing their autonomy and endurance. 

Executive summary: