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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)