Experimental and DEM analyses on wheel-soil interaction

B. Xi, L. Cui, M. Jiang, Y. Dai
Journal of Terramechanics
Contact Model, TJ-1 lunar soil simulant, tractive efficiency, Wheel-soil interaction system

In this paper, the wheel-soil interaction for a future lunar exploration mission is investigated by physical model tests and numerical simulations.

Firstly, a series of physical model tests was conducted using the TJ-1 lunar soil simulant with various driving conditions, wheel configurations and ground void ratios. Then the corresponding numerical simulations were performed in a terrestrial environment using the Distinct Element Method (DEM) with a new contact model for lunar soil, where the rolling resistance and van der Waals force were implemented.

In addition, DEM simulations in an extraterrestrial (lunar) environment were performed. The results indicate that tractive efficiency does not depend on wheel rotational velocity, but decreases with increasing extra vertical load on the wheel and ground void ratio. Rover performance improves when wheels are equipped with lugs.

The DEM simulations in terrestrial environment can qualitatively reproduce the soil deformation pattern as observed in the physical model tests. The variations of traction efficiency against the driving condition, wheel configuration and ground void ratio attained in the DEM simulations match the experimental observations qualitatively. Moreover, the wheel track is found to be less evident and the tractive efficiency is higher in the extraterrestrial environment compared to the performance on Earth.

Keywords: Wheel-soil interaction system, TJ-1 lunar soil simulant, Contact model, Tractive efficiency.

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