A man landed on the moon – check
Satellites revolving around the moon – check
Unmanned rover on the moon – umm….
Well, Carnegie Mellon University(CMU) just might have answered our curiosity. Yes, on 6 June 2019, The four-wheeled robot is being developed by a CMU team led by William “Red” Whittaker, a professor in the Robotics Institute. Equipped with video cameras, it will be one of the first American rovers to explore the moon’s surface. The rover will contain some special packages like hundreds of images, poems, music, nano-objects, mechanisms and earthly samples made to a complex mixture to see the unseen there. The rover package is known as MoonArk which is the creation of Lowry Burgess, space artist and professor emeritus in the CMU School of Art.
“Carnegie Mellon is one of the world’s leaders in robotics. It’s natural that our university would expand its technological footprint to another world,” said J. Michael McQuade, CMU’s vice president of research. “We are excited to expand our knowledge of the moon and develop lunar technology that will assist NASA in its goal of landing astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024.”
The mission is supported by Astrobotics.Inc(Spin-off of the same university) and NASA as they awarded the university with $79.5 million contracts to Astrobotic to deliver 14 scientific payloads to the lunar surface, making the July 2021 mission possible. Although, CMU separately set its negotiations with the company for the rover landing.
“CMU robots have been on land, on the sea, in the air, underwater and underground,” said Whittaker, Fredkin University Research Professor and director of the Field Robotics Center. “The next frontier is the high frontier.”
It’s not the first time that this university is creating a rover the function even in harsh conditions of space. Few of the name that comes under this category are Ambler, Nomad, Scarab and Andy. And the university’s advancements have also helped NASA’s Mars rovers navigate on their own.
“We’re more than techies — we’re scholars of the moon,” Whittaker said. The university has found a new way to fit various features into this rover with not exceeding more than the size of a shoe box. This puts them in a great place to compete and an all together in a different league, whereas the other countries who have made there attempts on this mission have a size more than 5x the size of the rover to be launched.
Being further more optimistic the university seems to pitch the scales up by providing the mission rover construction to the MoonArk, an international team of professionals within the arts, humanities, science and technology communities. The MoonArk team includes CMU students, faculty and alumni who worked with external artists and professionals involved with emerging media, new and ancient technologies, and hybrid processes. The team members hold degrees and faculty appointments in design, engineering, architecture, chemistry, poetry, music composition and visual art, among others.
Concluding, This rover is already an upscale technique and technology in itself and brings about the massive change in optimization and increasing the efficiency of the shoe box rovers. Who knows, we might soon see a rover as small as a rat soon.
For more information visit: https://www.ri.cmu.edu/carnegie-mellon-robot-art-project-to-land-on-moon-in-2021/