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Video: NASA Working on Lunar Mining Robot
5/2/2013

The RASSOR robot climbs a hill during testing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.   (Source: NASA)
The RASSOR robot climbs a hill during testing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
(Source: NASA)

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Elizabeth M
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NASA does it again
Elizabeth M   5/2/2013 8:34:08 AM
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I've read about this rover before, it's quite interesting. NASA's Mars exploration is some of its most fascinating work. I'll be curious to see what they can learn about the planet by mining it.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: NASA does it again
Ann R. Thryft   5/2/2013 11:48:44 AM
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Thanks, Elizabeth. I think one thing the development of this robot shows is that space robots are becoming more specialized, as we also saw in this slideshow on some NASA is developing with the Canadian Space Agency: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=254560

Rob Spiegel
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Cool robot
Rob Spiegel   5/2/2013 12:53:18 PM
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Wonderful, story, Ann. One thing this robot shares with the Mars Rover is the long list of constraints that the engineers need to manage in development. This type of project brings out the creativity in the design engineer.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cool robot
Ann R. Thryft   5/2/2013 1:18:40 PM
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Agreed, Rob. Although there are also some constraints of Curiosity it doesn't have--those that would involve sensitive scientific instrumentation--and others it has that Curiosity doesn't, such as some mechanical design for soil scooping.

apresher
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Mining Robot
apresher   5/2/2013 5:25:44 PM
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Excellent story, Ann.  Leave it to NASA to come up with a robot that digs effectively.  The barrel design is definitely very interesting as a way to overcome the lack of gravity.  Definitely a different type of design problem.

Charles Murray
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Re: Mining Robot
Charles Murray   5/2/2013 8:07:26 PM
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Maybe I missed it, but I wonder if this robot has a rechargeable battery. If so, how does it recharge?

TJ McDermott
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HARSH environment
TJ McDermott   5/2/2013 11:11:46 PM
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Vacuum.  Extreme temperature swings.  And that dust.  In some ways, the dust is the worst part of the problem.

The lunar astronauts reentered their landers covered in it; pristine white space suits greyed almost black.  It got everywhere.

This is going to be an interesting subject to follow in the coming years.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cool robot
Rob Spiegel   5/3/2013 3:28:15 PM
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Ann, I wonder if this machine is a precursor to mining projects. If we find sufficient valuable metals and elements on the Moon or Mars, than vehicles like this could do the mining with minimally manned ships picking up the payloads and bringing them home.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Cool robot
Cabe Atwell   5/3/2013 3:54:10 PM
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Good idea. Time to strip-mine the moon and fire bolts of ore back to the Earth.

Let's say we mine a trillion tons of ore from the moon and asteroids, adding the Earth's mass. Would that eventually slow the momentum, orbit, etc of the planet? I would imagine, since we would add more mass than there would ever be on the planet in our lifetime. (barring a major collision.)

C

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Cool robot
Jack Rupert, PE   5/3/2013 5:15:41 PM
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Of course then we could have a reclamation project for the moon like all the major earth-bound mines have (at least in the US).  We could send our un-recyclables back to even our the mass changes.

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