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Spiders and Butterflies

by Sayandeep Khan

We will use some autonomous instruments, temporarily called Lunar Spiders and Lunar Butterflies. The Spiders will be tiny robots, each designed to detect different elements or compounds.  They will report both visually and via radio, by emitting colors/packets to represent positive or negative findings of their targets. They will also be programmed for swarm behavior, to create random geometric and color patterns at regular intervals that can be captured by the rover or lander cameras.

Spiders, being extremely light, can be made extremely sensitive.  So they can be made to follow any surface activity. The lunar surface is highly vulnerable to temperature. The high night-day temp difference drives weathering, followed by gravity powered mass wasting.  The Spiders can be made to observe (visually or mechanically, measuring the shockwaves and/or stress created during weathering) these dynamics.

Summary of example Spider objective

 *Space observation

  - Observe cosmic particle influx in a specific location

  - Observe solar energy influx

 *ground observation

  - observing deposit patterns (spiders are mobile, they can follow the deposits)

  - observing surface dynamics triggered by heat, gravity, meteorite impact (the kinetic energy of a meteorite that impacts surface erodes regolith (weathering and removal) resulting in speculated 'regolith circulation'),

  - pulverization of calcium, and

  - solar wind generated electricity

  - finding specific material etc..

Titanium captures solar winds in the day, and releases them after sunset. The released material is mostly H2 and He. The gas stream levitates moondust - the particles are suspended in uprising gas. This structure is found to demonstrate fluid behavior. There are other processes at work creating a dynamic environment/atmosphere of lunar dust.

" According to the model recently proposed by Timothy J. Stubbs, Richard R. Vondrak, and William M. Farrell of the Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, this is caused by electrostatic levitation. On the daylit side of the Moon, solar ultraviolet and X-ray radiation is energetic enough to knock electrons out of atoms and molecules in the lunar soil. Positive charges build up until the tiniest particles of lunar dust (measuring 1 micrometre and smaller) are repelled from the surface and lofted anywhere from metres to kilometres high, with the smallest particles reaching the highest altitudes. Eventually they fall back toward the surface where the process is repeated over and over again. On the night side, the dust is negatively charged by electrons in the solar wind. Indeed, the fountain model suggests that the night side would charge up to higher voltages than the day side, possibly launching dust particles to higher velocities and altitudes." (from Wikipedia)

The Butterflies will attempt to fly/ float over the lunar surface. This brings a requirement – they must be extremely broad, thin and light. The Butterflies will check out the electrical nature of the lunar surface, looking for charges.  This application will be researched more for feasibility.

Both these ‘creatures’ will be distributed by the rover and the lander.

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