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A report recently approved by the Japanese government sets its sights on going to the moon. At first they thought they wanted a human robot on the moon, but now aim to have a rover on the moon in five years. Why not send Wall-e? He is friendly, well mannered, is wheeled like a rover and has plenty of space travel experience.
The Japanese also hope to establish a moon base by 2020.
The team also envisions building the world’s first station on the south pole of the moon in 2020, to be staffed by advanced wheeled robots.
It initially considered sending a two-legged humanoid but judged a “rover type” robot more practical due to the bumpy surface.
Using solar panels during the day and a radioisotope powered heater at night, the rover was able to explore the moon for 322 Earth days. From NASA:
This first successful Soviet rover operated for 11 lunar days, the equivalent of 322 Earth days. It traveled more than 10 km across the lunar surface, during which it transmitted more than 20,000 TV images and 206 high-resolution panoramas, performed 25 soil analyses with its spectrometer, and used a penetrometer to test the soil’s mechanical characteristics at more than 500 locations.
After losing contact with the rover, the project was terminated on October 4, 1971.
A team of researchers from the UCSD (University of California at San Diego) have been using reflective space junk left on the moon to show deviations in Einstein’s theory of relativity. This is accomplished by measuring the shape of the lunar orbit using light pulses, distance and time. The team leader is Tom Murphy, associate professor of physics at UCSD and they have been searching for Lunokhod 1 for many years.
We quickly verified the signal to be real and found it to be surprisingly bright: at least five times brighter than the other Soviet reflector, on the Lunokhod 2 rover, to which we routinely send laser pulses, Murphy said. The best signal we’ve seen from Lunokhod 2 in several years of effort is 750 return photons, but we got about 2,000 photons from Lunokhod 1 on our first try. It’s got a lot to say after almost 40 years of silence.
This is part of the Toyota Partner Robot program. The robots start out by helping us humans on Earth, but then move to the Moon. Supposedly these robots will have the following abilities.
- joints are protected from regolith
- small capacity solar battery onboard
- internal status shows on screen on chest
- arms exchangeable for different tasks
- able to jump with springs in legs
- keeps warm during night covered in metal cloak
Why we need robots on the Moon that can do caligraphy or make Japanese rock gardens is beyond me.
Well, the winner shown here is Moonraker from Paul’s Robotics. From the Regolith blog:
The entire $750,000 prize purse for the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge was awarded today. The winners of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place were Paul’s Robotics, Terra Engineering, and Team Braundo respectively. Thanks to all who participated to make this the best Regolith Challenge yet.
See our previous post about the challenge featuring another team called Astrobotic Technology, or click through for a video of the winner on a test run.
Astrobotic Technology has revealed more information about its lunar rover. This company is led by William “Red” Whitaker and hopes to win the $20 million Lunar X Prize.
The new rover will be used to travel the moon’s equator, where it gets hotter than boiling water. The rover will keep a cool side aimed away from the sun and will generally travel east or west, but can tack north and south like a sailboat.
The robot will also serve as an internet node and be able to transmit back high resolution photographs of the moon’s surface. It will use 2 motors with bicycle like chain drives as opposed to a motor in each wheel hub.