14. November 2022
Manuela Braun
The Moon’s terrestrial outpost - the LUNA facility

Seven hundred square metres and nine meters high – these are the dimensions of the hall in which the Moon will have its earthly outpost from 2024. It is a small outpost when you consider that the Moon has a surface area of almost 38,000,000 square kilometres, and yet the LUNA facility will be the only place in Europe where researchers, astronauts and rovers can ‘travel’ to Earth's satellite in the future and conduct comprehensive mission training. The Moon itself will be the model. This extraterrestrial world of fine dust and coarse rocks is special: sharp stones that wind and weather don't wear down, fine dust particles, gravity just one sixth as strong as that of Earth, almost no atmosphere and light conditions that vary between pitch black and broad daylight.

The Moon on Earth

Many of these harsh conditions will also be experienced inside the LUNA hall which is jointly built by DLR and ESA. When astronauts and researchers enter the hall, they will stand with their feet in lunar-like regolith sand – delivered fresh from Germany’s Eifel region. Powerful spotlights will simulate the unbroken rays of the Sun, while deep black walls will ensure that there are no reflections, just as on the Moon. The entire scenery in the high hall is immersed in light and shadow, as was seen in the photos from the Apollo missions. A gravity off-loading system ensures that the astronaut crew and rover experience the reduced gravity of the Moon and only feel a sixth of their actual weight. Landers and rovers stand and drive between rocks and hills, as they did at the Apollo landing sites on the Moon.

Develop, test, optimise

About the author
Manuela Braun has been doing public relations for DLR since 2010. As a trained journalist in print and online, she loves to be on site where research topics are within reach. to authorpage