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Simulation: lander and rover separation

12-14-2013 21:47 BJT Special Report: Chang’e-3 Lunar Probe |

Lander and rover separation

Welcome to our special coverage on the Chang’E 3 Lunar orbiter. This is Sinus Iridum, the new home for the Chang’e 3 Lunar orbiter. The probe has two parts: the one with “leg” like structures called the lander, which weighs one ton and is designed to serve for 12 months; and the other, the rover. Many call it a lunar vehicle, as it moves on wheels. Most of the detections will be done by this little vehicle. It weighs about 140 kilograms; much lighter than the lander, and it will serve for three months.

They are currently connected with each other, as the lander is holding the rover up high. The rover should land on the surface of the moon first before it starts the exploration. Though it’s only meters from the surface, the landing is not any easier when compared with the 380-thousand-kilometer journey from the Earth to the Moon. Let me show you the landing process.

First step: preparation. Take a look at the lander first. The lander needs to extend its solar wings and fully charge itself and the rover. This work is done just minutes after the probe’s landing. Next is to extend the directional antenna—the eyes and ears for the probe. The Antenna aims points to the Earth precisely so that all of the activity can be recorded. When the antenna faces the Earth, the command center on the Earth is able to receive signals. Though both the lander and the rover can be controlled by its own “brains”, major decisions are still made by human-beings who cull all the information and do the analysis. So scientists on Earth rely heavily on the information sent from the probe across the universe.

Let me take a picture of this…The monitor in the lander records the relation between the lander and the rover. And the directional antenna, which is set in the lander, sends the position information back to the Earth. After analysis, scientists calculate the exact time of parting.

Turning to the rover, which also needs to be charged first for sure. The work has been done by the lander already just as I mentioned earlier. The command center on Earth can wake up the rover now!

To roll on the moon, the wheels on the rover need to be unlocked. Before landing on the moon, the wheels are affixed on the lander by components called initiating explosive devices. When the rover is ordered to unlock, the devices will explode, and break the joints between the wheels and the lander. Although all the initiating explosive devices were tested when they were on Earth, it would still be a relief for engineers when the unlocking process succeeds. It’s just like lighting matches: you can’t light up all the matches in the box to prove they work.

Then the solar wings unfold, preparing for energy refreshment after the rover severs from the lander. Then the rover will lift its mast, which is home to a number of key instruments that are crucial to this mission.

Now the rover starts to look around, taking photos of its surroundings, as the mast can rotate. The panorama covers the area of the rover’s walk, which is in a 10 meter periphery. The data will then transmit back to the Earth for further studies.

Time for separation! The cable connecting the rover and lander is cut.

After finishing all the procedures, the separation kicks off. The rover will automatically move to the transferor. Let’s now take a close look at it. It looks like a pair of ladders set up on the lander, which carries the rover all the way from the Earth. The transferor unlocks as it inches down closer to the Moon. Now let’s take a wild guess, shall we? Can the rover walk directly from the transferor? The answer is yes. The rover is able to move to the Moon on its own. Yet the process is much safer, thanks to special designs of the transferor. As you may find out, the landing angle is considerably gentler than it would have been otherwise. Finally, the rover smoothly breaks away from the lander. It has stayed with the lander from the rocket launch, as it is getting ready for further exploration tasks. Though the two apparatuses are apart, the process hasn’t been completed yet. The rover is in an area without communication, thanks to the lander’s shelter. It is supposed to move forward out of the non-communication zone. If you notice, what it has done so far is just observed its surrounding area of 10 meter periphery. As soon as it walks out of the sheltering zone, it will connect with the command center on Earth, receiving orders to stop and finish relevant settings. Till this moment, the rover has fully separated from the lander.


Editor:James |Source:

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