There are some places in our solar system that are just too difficult for humans to explore. But thanks to new technological advances by NASA, the South Pole of the Moon may no longer be one of those places. The Kinematic Navigation and Cartography Knapsack (or KNaCK) has been developed to create a real-time map of new terrain.
The KNaCK looks a lot like a regular backpack, but it also utilizes a lidar scanner and light detection technology to create a 3D map of its surroundings. The backpack uses the same type of laser range finders that aid smart cars in autopilot mode.
“Basically, the sensor is a surveying tool for both navigation and science mapping, able to create ultra-high-resolution 3D maps at centimeter-level precision and give them a rich scientific context,” Dr. Michael Zanetti, a planetary scientist said.
“It also will help ensure the safety of astronauts and rover vehicles in a GPS-denied environment such as the Moon, identifying actual distances to far-off landmarks and showing explorers in real time how far they’ve come and how far is left to go to reach their destination.”