Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 34

VISIONS
Magnetic Levitation Studied at JPL for Moving Payloads Around the Moon
Credit: Ethan Schaler
While rich tourists may be thinking about a space voyage, scientists
at NASA have their sights on more mundane pursuits,
like moving payloads around the moon. Magnetic levitation
could be the key.
Considered early-stage research into futuristic space ideas, a
lunar levitation track system is one of several advanced space
concepts being studied at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, California. It is under the auspices of the NASA
Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program which nurtures
visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions
with the creation of radically better or entirely new aerospace
concepts while engaging America's innovators and entrepreneurs
as partners in the journey. The projects study innovative,
technically credible, advanced concepts that could one day
change the possible in aerospace.
" NIAC Fellows are known to dream big, proposing technologies
that may appear to border science fiction and are unlike
research being funded by other agency programs, " said Jenn
Gustetic, director of early-stage innovations and partnerships
within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).
" We don't expect them all to come to fruition but recognize that
providing a small amount of seed-funding for early research
could benefit NASA greatly in the long run. " Initial proposals
selected in the program receive grants from NASA up to
$125,000. If their initial 9-month feasibility studies are successful,
NIAC Fellows can apply for Phase II awards.
Among the selections this year is Ethan Schaler, a robotics engineer
at JPL offering an infrastructure idea for autonomously
transporting cargo on the Moon using magnetic robots that
would levitate over a flexible track. The tracks would unroll on
the lunar surface, forgoing major on-site construction associated
with building roads and railways on Earth. Schaler will also
research another NIAC Phase I study in parallel: swimming
micro-robots for exploring ocean worlds.
" We want to build the first lunar railway system, which will
provide reliable, autonomous, and efficient payload transport
on the Moon. A durable, long-life robotic transport system will
be critical to the daily operations of a sustainable lunar base
in the 2030's, as envisioned in NASA's Moon to Mars plan and
mission concepts like the Robotic Lunar Surface Operations
2, " explains Schaler. It would be tasked with transporting lunar
minerals mined for consumables or construction on the Moon,
also for transporting payloads around the lunar base, landing
zones or other outposts
The proposed FLOAT system employs unpowered magnetic
robots that levitate over a three-layer flexible film track. A
graphite layer enables robots to passively float over tracks using
diamagnetic levitation, a flex-circuit layer generates electromagnetic
thrust to controllably propel robots along tracks, and
an optional thin-film solar panel layer generates power for the
base when in sunlight. The robots have no moving parts and
levitate over the track to minimize lunar dust abrasion, unlike
lunar robots with wheels, legs, or tracks.
FLOAT tracks unroll directly onto the lunar regolith to avoid
major on-site construction. Individual FLOAT robots would be
able to transport payloads of varying shape and size up to 33
kg/sq meter at speeds greater than 0.5 meter per second. A
large-scale FLOAT system could move up to 100,000 kgs of
payload per day while consuming less than 40 kW of power.
For more info, see www.nasa.gov/niac.
34 Magnetics Business & Technology * September/October 2021
www.MagneticsMag.com
http://www.nasa.gov/niac http://www.MagneticsMag.com

Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021

Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021
Editor’s Choice/ Features
Reduced-Helium Magnets from Philips a Game-Changer in MRI Scanners
Driven by Global Pandemic, Magnetic Diagnostics Tools from Luminex Take Part in 98% Jump in Business
World’s Most Powerful Tidal Turbine Launched Offshore Scotland
Research & Development
Product News
Industry News
Events Calendar/ Advertising Index
Magnetic Levitation Studied at JPL for Moving Payloads Around the Moon
Visions
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Cover2
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 3
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Editor’s Choice/ Features
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 5
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Reduced-Helium Magnets from Philips a Game-Changer in MRI Scanners
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 7
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Driven by Global Pandemic, Magnetic Diagnostics Tools from Luminex Take Part in 98% Jump in Business
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 9
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 10
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 11
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 12
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 13
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 14
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 15
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - World’s Most Powerful Tidal Turbine Launched Offshore Scotland
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 17
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Research & Development
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 19
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Product News
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 21
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 22
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 23
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 24
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 25
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Industry News
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 27
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 28
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 29
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 30
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 31
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Events Calendar/ Advertising Index
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - 33
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Visions
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Cover3
Magnetics Business & Technology - September/October 2021 - Cover4
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