Title of Presentation: The Mars and Moon Underground Mole (MMUM)

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Carol Stoker

Organization of Primary Author: NASA Ames Research Center

Co-Authors: Andrew Gonzales, Jhony Zavaleta, and Lawrence G. Lemke


Abstract: The Moon Mars Underground Mole (MMUM) is a compact, light-weight, low-power bur-rowing penetrator that uses an internal hammering mechanism to move forward by compacting the surrounding regolith. The 60 cm long, 4 cm diameter mole is connected to the surface via a tether that incorporates motor and sensor power and signal lines. The MMUM is retrieved to the surface by retracting the tether around a powered reel. The mole’s penetration rate of progress provides information about regolith physical properties (density, compressive strength, particle size) and temperature sensors can provide heat flow and thermal conductivity. An optical win-dow in the mole houses optics for a fiber optic Raman Spectrometer. The spectrometer detector, laser light source, and control electronics for the instrument are on the surface. The Raman sen-sor is capable of sensing a wide range of compounds relevant to Mars Astrobiology objectives including hydrated minerals, clays, carbonates, sulfates, and organic compounds.  The tip of the mole can be opened to collect a soil sample. The MMUM is designed to reach up to 2 m tip depth in Lunar or Mars regolith and can be repeatedly deployed and retrieved. The ability to per-form repeated sampling, combined with the low mass and power requirements, means that Moles could be incorporated into a rover mission as well as used on a stationary platform.