Resource Prospector NIRVSS/Drill testing in GRC vacuum chamber

Drill
Drill

The Resource Prospector (RP) team successfully completed testing of the Near InfraRed Volatiles Spectrometer System (NIRVSS) and Drill system in lunar-like conditions.  The test was conducted in the GRC VF-13 vacuum chamber to evaluate/test/assess RP’s method for regolith sample acquisition and sub-surface volatiles quantification. The VF-13 chamber uses a drill tube of cryogenically-frozen lunar simulant doped in layers with known amounts of water into which RP’s drill (HoneyBee Robotics) will auger. The chamber is operated at ~1×10-6 Torr and uses a liquid nitrogen shroud to simulate lunar thermal conditions with soil temperatures around -100C. The drill exhumes material to the surface (in a manner to maintain stratigraphy) for measurement by the NIRVSS. Once the drill has reached a wet layer (as confirmed by NIRVSS), a sample is then captured and transferred to a sample capture mechanism, at the crucible station, that is remotely closed and sealed for post-test water analysis.  The test used a flight-forward software system capable of operating the NIRVSS instrument remotely at ARC. This is the first time that RP’s NIRVSS Engineering Test Unit, including its newly developed camera was operated with the RP drill in a lunar-like environment during drilling operations.   All hardware and software performed very well and demonstrated that the NIRVSS/Drill system could identify the presences of subsurface water in real-time. 

Drill Hole
Drill Hole