ENGS 89/90 Reports

Degree Program


Year of Graduation


Project Advisor

Laura Ray


Michael Kokko

Document Type


Publication Date



This project, Break Off Landing and Sensing (BOLAS), seeks to develop an innovative and unique non-wheeled mobility solution that can access lunar PSRs to collect geotechnical data, a first step in lunar prospecting. BOLAS is a landing and sensing system which is ballistically deployed to regions of scientific interest inaccessible to lunar rover missions. We will expand on existing scientific knowledge and capabilities by providing penetrometer data for geotechnical analysis, a controlled landing system for scientific equipment, and a proof of concept for ballistically deployed lunar sensors. BOLAS’ core novel concept is a rotational ballistic system which can trade off rotational energy to slow down its translational velocity descent, effectively rendering landing velocity solely a function of break off height. This solution avoids the problems of impacting at speeds faster than launch velocity: embedding into the lunar regolith and damaging equipment. Additionally, this landing system is portable and scalable: each BOLAS sphere weighs 1.5 kg, is 10cm in diameter, and solely uses mechanical means to control velocity. Over the course of ENGS 89-90, the BOLAS project was split into 3 systems: the spherical enclosure, electronics sensing system, and launch system. The spherical enclosure and electronics were prototyped to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3: individual benchtop verification of components. While the launch system was developed to TRL 2: a paper design. These objectives were set with respect to the timeframe of the 2022 NASA Big IDEA Challenge.

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