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SpaceSite Lab. - A Full Scale Moon and Mars Test and Research Facility



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05 April 2024

Duration: 12 months


The vision is to establish and operate a comprehensive Moon and Mars analogue facility through a close collaboration between the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) and Aarhus University (AU). DTI will take the lead in overseeing the operation of a commercially oriented, state-of-the-art testing laboratory of space assets, as well as providing start-up incubation support. Meanwhile, AU will continue to push the boundaries of its world-class planetary research and leverage its renowned expertise in the field. There are a range of groundbased test facilities at the disposal of ESA for Mars and Moon exploration. Some are relatively large scale and simulate primarily the regolith under terrestrial atmospheric conditions (such as LUNA) others are relatively small scale and are capable of low pressure, low temperature operations. The Planetary Environment Facilities (PEF) at AU excel in simulating dust exposure and wind flow, but the size of the facility restricts it to accommodating only sub-systems. For full scale testing of Lunar/Martian lander systems there exists a gap in the existing test capabilities, as outlined in the ISECG-ISRU Technology Gap Assessment. This is especially relevant for current human exploration programs (e.g. Terrae Novae Programme) that require large scale landed elements (e.g. Argonaut program). These could include rovers, drones, human habitats, solar arrays and other large-scale infrastructure. The proposed study aims to carefully examine the strategic challenges involved in the construction and operation of a large-scale facility of this nature. It will address key factors crucial for informed decision-making, such as the technical configuration, architectural design, supporting infrastructure, public-private partnerships, the estimated cost, and a comprehensive stakeholder survey. This research will provide valuable insights to create a viable business model for the commercial operation of the facility in the short, mid, and long term.

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SpaceSite Lab. - A Full Scale Moon and Mars Test and Research Facility