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Skoda Enyaq-Inspired Autonomous Moon Rover Packs Star Trek Technology
One way or another, humanity will return to the Moon, and this time around, it's going to stay. NASA's Artemis program will kickstart the colonization of our natural satellite and lay the foundation for future exploration of other worlds. But for that to happen, new technologies will have to be developed, including vehicles capable of conquering the rugged lunar terrain.

Skoda Enyaq-Inspired Autonomous Moon Rover Packs Star Trek Technology

Skoda Enyaq-inspired Moon roverSkoda Enyaq-inspired Moon roverSkoda Enyaq-inspired Moon roverXtend Design reveals Skoda Enyaq-inspired Moon roverXtend Design reveals Skoda Enyaq-inspired Moon roverXtend Design reveals Skoda Enyaq-inspired Moon rover
Not that many years ago, NASA announced that the Artemis program will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by the end of the decade. Once astronauts get to really put their boots on the Moon, they'll need a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) to explore the satellite, something that can withstand the regolith encountered on the lunar surface and the long, cold nights.

Several automakers have already jumped on the bandwagon and presented concepts and ideas that could help the Artemis astronauts establish a long-term presence on the Moon. Toyota joined forces with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to develop a pressurized rover that would allow the crew to ride inside without needing their spacesuits.

Recently, GM announced that it's working on a lunar rover project together with Lockheed Martin to create an electric Moon buggy capable of exploring the rugged terrain and withstanding the harsh conditions.

Now, we're seeing another daring concept. This time, the solution comes from Xtend Design, a London-based architecture and design company focused on interdisciplinary projects for both Earth and space. Over the years, the team has been creating incredible designs for major agencies such as NASA or the European Science Foundation that vision villages on the Moon and 3D-printed habitats for a moon base.

Recently, Xtend Design has revealed a new project - a Skoda Enyaq-inspired moon rover aptly called Luniaq. Announced during the Czech Space Week, the concept was presented in the largest virtual reality laboratory in Europe, the Virtuplex.

This allowed guests to experience what it feels like to be on the lunar surface from our home and see what astronauts will have to face once they land on the Moon. The Luniaq is the creation of space architect Tomas Rousek, who formerly worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on designs for missions to the Moon, Mars, and asteroids.

The rover's front design was inspired by Skoda's Enyaq, and it is based on NASA's MMSEV (Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle) platform. The result? An electric lunar vehicle with large windows capable of seating up to four astronauts.

The windows are made from transparent aluminum. If that sounds familiar, that's because you've probably seen this tech in a "Star Trek" movie. While scientists are not actually capable of replicating the aluminum used in the fictional world of "Star Trek," they can get pretty close to it in reality by using transparent ceramics made from aluminum compounds.

Using this type of material is like using bulletproof glass on steroids – a great feature for the lunar setting. As the rover moves, it can kick up dust and sharp rocks that can harm the occupants. In that case, the windows will sort of act as a shield. Of course, the polyethylene layers would also help protect the crew from harmful UV radiation.

In the front, the Luniaq will feature an additional window positioned in the bottom part. This will allow astronauts to see the terrain ahead. They'll also be able to see their surroundings using stereoscopic cameras.

The vehicle's wheels will be based on Michelin's Tweel design. The tires will have flexible spokes that can absorb bumps and they won't fear puncturing as the technology doesn't use compressed air.

The rover has two hatches on the sides, which will connect it to the Moon base's space modules. At the rear, there is what the company calls a "suitport," hidden behind a hinged door. The suitport, as the name suggests, provides two spacesuits. This allows the astronauts to get equipped without having to deal with the lunar dust from the outside.

Power is received from solid-state batteries that can be charged from the roof-mounted UltraFlex solar panels. Apart from the solar panels, the roof will feature radiators for cooling down and antennas needed for communication with the lunar base or Earth. Remote and autonomous control of the rover will also be possible.

For now, the Luniaq is just a concept that lives through the renderings provided by the Xtend Design team. We'll have yet to see what the first LTV will actually look like.

 
 
 
 
 

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