Multiplanetary Innovation Enterprise


Project Overview


The Trencher is a bucket ladder style excavator designed for use in Lunar soil simulant, or regolith. The project began in 2019 as a research project at Michigan Tech's Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab, or PSTDL.





Over the course of the 2021/2022 school year, the teams moved the bucket ladder from the PSTDL to a lunar regolith cart for further atmospheric testing, and eventually testing at vacuum in the PSTDL's Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber.


Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber (DTVAC)

Gantry Gantry

Testing in the PSTDL's DTVAC provides a realistic testing enviroment analogs to the temperatures and pressure onthe Moon. After initial atmospheric testing had been completed, the Trencher was moved for the first time in the Spring of 2022 to the DTVAC. Several test were conducted while collecting performance metrics such as power usage and weight of regolith excavated.

2022-2023 Project Focus

Currently, the team is working on revamping the Trenchers gantry system to improve mobility and ease of use when testing. Additionally, upgrades are being made to the electrical and data aquisition infrastructure. These updates are on track to be complete by the end of the Fall 2022 semester. Work during the Spring semester will tentatively consist of