DAEDALUS – Descent And Exploration in Deep Autonomy of Lava Underground Structures

It is now known that on other planets such as Mars and our satellite, the Moon, there are surface collapses and volcanic caves that will most likely offer shelter for the first long-term human explorations, as well as scientific answers regarding the geological nature or the presence of forms of life unknown to us.

For these reasons, in 2019 the European Space Agency launched a campaign through the Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP) to evaluate innovative proposals aimed at the exploration, documentation and 3D mapping of volcanic cavities on the Moon. We participated in this campaign by forming a consortium in which theUniversity of Wurzburg, the Jacobs University of Bremen, theUniversity of Padova and the Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova – INAF (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica).

Thus it was born DAEDALUS (Descent And Exploration in Deep Autonomy of Lava Underground Structures), a prototype that contains several components capable of performing a high-definition 3D mapping during the descent and moving autonomously within a lava tube. This system is in fact equipped with LIDAR and stereoscopic cameras to guarantee almost total coverage in order to acquire data in any condition.

DAEDALUS was selected together with another project (RoboCrane) proposed by a consortium formed by the Universities of Oviedo and Vigo together with Alen Space and now, through the next phase of study and design (CDF-Concurrent Design Facility), the two teams will try to integrate the proposed solutions together with engineers and technicians of the European Space Agency with the aim of organizing a mission to the Moon in the coming years.

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