ESA’s 10 meters deep Neutral Buoyancy Facility at the European Astronaut Center has been the site of the ‘Moondive’ study.
Credit: ESA/COMEX

 

 

Total immersion – Moondive style.

One of the deepest neutral buoyancy facilities in Europe is in use to simulate lunar gravity – one-sixth that of Earth.

The European Space Agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility (NBF) at the European Astronaut Center (EAC) near Cologne in Germany has been the site of a three year “Moondive” study. The facility has been used to investigate moonwalk procedures for the lunar surface.

Artwork depicts ESA lunar base. Europe is testing and training in specialized facilities for the human exploration of the Moon.
Credit: ESA/Screengrab

The updated facility joins a range of ESA simulators, training software and hardware and EAC’s “Luna Dome.” That dome is now in preparation, designed to simulate the effects of lunar dust on equipment and hardware. The intent of all the simulators is to place Europe in the forefront of testing and training facilities for the human exploration of the Moon.

One small kangaroo jump

Moondive was run by a consortium led by the French company, Comex, which specializes in human and robotic exploration of extreme environments.

Kangaroo jumping on the Moon, the optimum walking strategy.
Credit: NASA

The optimum walking strategy in this finely-tuned negative buoyancy turns out to be to kangaroo jump – just like the Apollo astronauts did on the Moon, notes Hervé Stevenin, ESA’s Head of EVA Training and NBF Operations.

Techniques and technology

Adds Peter Weiss, Head of the Space Department at Comex: “We focused on the techniques and technology we will need to prepare astronauts for future missions to the Moon. The idea was to come up with a database of items, tools and tasks that astronauts may have to handle on missions to the Moon, not just for training purposes but also for testing and validating new equipment and ways of doing things,” Weiss explains in an ESA press statement.

Go to this informative Moondive video at:

https://dlmultimedia.esa.int/download/public/videos/2018/04/009/1804_009_AR_EN.mp4

 

 

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