Next stop: the moon

A Berlin-based startup aims to land a module carrying two rovers on the moon in the near future. Audi is part of this mission as a key technology partner and has been supporting the group of scientists for several years as they develop the two Audi lunar quattro vehicles.

Birte Mußmann (copy), PTScientists (photo) & AUDI AG (video)

In 2009, the Part-Time Scientists (now simply PTScientists) announced their participation in an international contest. The mission: 1. Fly an unmanned vehicle 384,400 kilometers from Earth to the moon. 2. Get the vehicle to travel 500 meters on the moon’s surface while it transmits HD images back to Earth. Although the team of scientists has since left the competition, they are still pursuing their mission to the moon independently.

Audi has been supporting the PTScientists as a key technology partner on this project since 2015, contributing to the development of the two models known as Audi lunar quattro rovers. This vehicle type plays a starring role in the project, which is to transition from theory to practice in the coming year. With support from Audi, the robust rover has in previous years undergone a series of relevant technological refinements to cope with the extreme conditions it will face as it explores the moon. Among other things, the lightweight design has been equipped with all-wheel drive technology and an electric motor designed by the brand with the four rings.

According to the current plan, a carrier rocket will take the unmanned landing module ALINA (short for Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module) to the moon in spring 2019. The landing module, which ultimately detaches from the rocket and completes the moon landing, can accommodate the two Audi lunar quattro rovers whose job is to conduct scientific experiments near the Apollo 17 landing site in the Taurus-Littrow valley. A communication network designed to send the pictures and videos the rovers generate back to Earth will be tested on the moon for the first time. As part of this network, an LTE base station provided by the telecommunications company Vodafone, another partner to the PTScientists, will enable the rovers to transfer data to ALINA and then on to Earth. Solar panels on the rovers and the landing station will generate the required power. LTE technology offers one major benefit: It uses far less energy than the technologies tested thus far—energy that can then be used for other functions.

It is a journey of 384,400 kilometers. A rocket will fly the route from Earth to the moon in four days. A person who drives his or her vehicle for 15,000 kilometres per year requires a good 25 years for 384,400 kilometres.