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The Gandalf Staff: A Mobile Tool for Lunar Exploration
  • +4
  • Michael Evans,
  • John Bacon,
  • Lee Graham,
  • Matthew Leonard,
  • Michael Zanetti,
  • Joseph Morgan,
  • Christopher Harris
Michael Evans
NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Johnson Space Center

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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John Bacon
NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Johnson Space Center
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Lee Graham
NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Johnson Space Center
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Matthew Leonard
Texas Space Technology Applications & Research (T STAR), Texas Space Technology Applications & Research (T STAR)
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Michael Zanetti
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
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Joseph Morgan
Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University
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Christopher Harris
Jacobs Technology, Inc., Jacobs Technology, Inc.
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The Gandalf Staff is a mobile tool designed to be a flexible device supporting crewed and uncrewed operations on the lunar surface. The core of the device is a 24v battery with communications and data storage systems. Initial optional components supporting crewed Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) include a LiDAR and 360˚ camera. These provide 3D mapping of the traverse for documentation, and to aid future planning. The mapping also creates outreach opportunities for the public to “stand beside” the astronaut in Virtual Reality (VR). The staff provides external lighting for field site illumination in the south polar region low sun angle environment. Navigation instruments for crew position determination with Lunar Search and Rescue (LunaSAR) are also included. The staff itself can be used as a walking aid or as a splint for Incapacitated Crew Rescue (ICR). As a stand-alone device, the staff operates as a long duration untended science platform collecting environmental data and sending it to a lunar base station. The stand-alone mode requires connection to an auxiliary power source (e.g. solar array) and energy storage system (e.g. battery), so it could become an electrical recharging station. To make rapid progress in the 1st year, and also to demonstrate innovative project management techniques, NASA guided a private industry partner, T STAR, in leading Capstone Engineering student teams at Texas A&M University (TAMU) for proof-of-concept development and testing. These teams developed the power system and demonstrated successful integration of LiDAR, WiFi communications, and external lighting subsystems. Another industry team at Jacobs Technology prototyped a tripod to hold the staff upright. For the 2nd year (FY’22), NASA will again collaborate with partners to prototype enhanced power and lighting concepts. Year 2 will also add new capability for LunaSAR and geophysical science instrumentation using a heat probe. The heat probe is based upon Apollo heritage but modified to measure subsurface volatile ice regimes at the Artemis landing site. Components of the Gandalf Staff can be developed, tested, and deployed independently, or on the integrated staff, rovers, or utility trailers. The project supports crew safety, lunar sample curation, mission science, and public outreach goals of NASA.