Explore the surface of the moon with rovers the size of a Roomba in the future. Of course, this also requires correspondingly compact instruments. The NASA mini moon rover is the answer.
To collect ideas for this, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) http://jpl.nasa.gov is now using crowdsourcing.
The competition “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload” is looking for ideas for payloads that are no bigger than a bar of soap and therefore fit into a mini rover.
Previous payloads for lunar research were often large and heavy, making it expensive to get them from Earth into space. The energy requirement is also large. “Smaller payloads are groundbreaking,” says JPL’s Sabah Bux. “They enable us to develop technologies so that we can use smaller, more mobile platforms to conduct more exploration and science.” JPL now hopes to drive the corresponding miniaturization through competition.
Regardless of whether submitted ideas facilitate the search for exploitable minerals. For the nasa mini moon rover the payload must be:
- As compact as a bar of soap (100 x 100 x 50 millimetres).
- Must not weigh more than 400 grams.
- It is also important that the equipment can withstand the harsh conditions on the moon’s surface.
- I.e. that it functions at temperatures ranging from minus 120 to plus 100 degrees outside.
Suitable ideas can be submitted until June 1, 2020, and a total of 160,000 dollars in prize money has been announced.
In the long term, the winners could play a real role in lunar exploration. Cleverly constructed, mini moon rover is the best way to continuously collect information about the lunar surface. Also the resources available there and the prevailing environmental conditions.
Compact data collectors for the nasa mini moon rover
Such data could be of great use. For example, for the Artemis program, which is intended to bring people back to the moon and create a permanent presence there.
The original goal was a manned lunar landing in 2024. But discussions are currently underway to postpone this target date to 2028.