HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Blog
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)

Return to Article

View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
NASA does it again
Elizabeth M   5/2/2013 8:34:08 AM
NO RATINGS
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
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA does it again
Ann R. Thryft   5/2/2013 11:48:44 AM
NO RATINGS
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

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA does it again
Elizabeth M   5/6/2013 9:41:00 AM
NO RATINGS
Indeed, Ann, I think this may also have to do with some of the budget concerns NASA has had. Always a bastion of R&D, the agency now has to do more with less. So perhaps it's far better for them to specialize for specific tasks in their robotics research since they don't have the luxury of R&D for R&D's sake anymore. I will check out that slideshow! Partnering up seems to also be a good tactic to keep NASA R&D alive and as innovative as it's always been.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA does it again
Ann R. Thryft   5/8/2013 12:45:51 PM
NO RATINGS
Elizabeth, those are good points about NASA's budget woes and research aims. I think this specialization also means that the basic space rover design platform has been worked out and they can now focus attention on more specialized tasks.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: NASA does it again
Elizabeth M   5/9/2013 9:18:13 AM
NO RATINGS
Yes, of course, you're right, Ann, but this type of focus likely will have a financial benefit to NASA as well, or at least allow them to disperse funds in the most useful way. Interesting stuff to cover, at any rate! I do enjoy the NASA stories. Will keep an eye out for your updates.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Cool robot
Rob Spiegel   5/2/2013 12:53:18 PM
NO RATINGS
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
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Ann R. Thryft   5/2/2013 1:18:40 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Rob Spiegel   5/3/2013 3:28:15 PM
NO RATINGS
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
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Cabe Atwell   5/3/2013 3:54:10 PM
NO RATINGS
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
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool robot
Jack Rupert, PE   5/3/2013 5:15:41 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

Debera Harward
User Rank
Silver
Re: Cool robot
Debera Harward   5/4/2013 6:05:34 AM
NO RATINGS
Ahan Nasa is doing great work , But i have one question this Robot would have been created for a specific surface level and what i think is that over their its not necessary that all the area has the same surface i mean to say the size of the sand granulaes and pebbles may varry as well as this is a nature and nothing cant be constant .So what have they done in order to over come this issue as the robot can stuck as well because of large pebbels .

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Ann R. Thryft   5/9/2013 12:11:25 PM
NO RATINGS
Deberah, the robot has been tested on several different surface types, as the article mentions. There's more detail about this in the technical paper I referred to in a previous comment, which unfortunately has been taken offline.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Cabe Atwell   5/10/2013 4:00:25 PM
NO RATINGS
Mining the Moon is for future colonization. So, let's say we have established a small city. Would people born there, in low gravity, never be able to visit Earth without their bodies being crushed? Sad future for citizens of the Moon.

C

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Ann R. Thryft   5/6/2013 1:43:13 PM
NO RATINGS
Cabe, thanks for the laugh: the robot is designed to mine materials for use by astronauts while on the Moon, not for shipping back to Earth.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Rob Spiegel   5/7/2013 5:20:48 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes, that makes sense that the robot would be designed to mine materials for local use. But that could change depending on what they find under all that lunar dust. If the materials they find have great value, they will make it back to Earth.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Rob Spiegel   5/6/2013 5:47:32 PM
NO RATINGS
Good question Cabe. If this were an issue, it could be solved by taking an equivalent weight of dirt along with the rocket that will bring the payload home.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool robot
Ann R. Thryft   5/7/2013 4:23:17 PM
NO RATINGS
Hmmm, maybe you're right Rob. I hope not, especially if Cabe's points turn out to be accuratre and not so tongue-in-cheek.

apresher
User Rank
Blogger
Mining Robot
apresher   5/2/2013 5:25:44 PM
NO RATINGS
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
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Mining Robot
Charles Murray   5/2/2013 8:07:26 PM
NO RATINGS
Maybe I missed it, but I wonder if this robot has a rechargeable battery. If so, how does it recharge?

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Mining Robot
Ann R. Thryft   5/6/2013 1:39:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Good question, Chuck. The answer is in that technical paper I mentioned in my reply to Al: there, it says "RASSOR shall recharge its battery at the lander using a dust tolerant connector."



Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Mining Robot
Ann R. Thryft   5/6/2013 1:33:34 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks, Al--I really liked the design concept, not what it is so much as how the engineers worked it out. They described it in more detail in a paper that became inaccessible after I first filed the story; the entire site---NASA's technical reports server--has been down for a month or so.



TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
HARSH environment
TJ McDermott   5/2/2013 11:11:46 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

Partner Zone
More Blogs
An Israeli design student has created a series of unique pieces of jewelry that can harvest energy from default movements of the body and even use human blood as a way to conduct energy.
If you see a hitchhiker along the road in Canada this summer, it may not be human. That’s because a robot is thumbing its way across our neighbor to the north as part of a collaborative research project by several Canadian universities.
Stanford University researchers have found a way to realize what’s been called the “Holy Grail” of battery-design research -- designing a pure lithium anode for lithium-based batteries. The design has great potential to provide unprecedented efficiency and performance in lithium-based batteries that could substantially drive down the cost of electric vehicles and solve the charging problems associated with smartphones.
Help us recognize engineers who are ahead of the trends and making big moves in the design engineering community.
Robots in films during the 2000s hit the big time; no longer are they the sidekicks of nerdy character actors. Robots we see on the big screen in recent years include Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eddie Murphy. Top star of the era, Will Smith, takes a spin as a robot investigator in I, Robot. Robots (or androids or cyborgs) are fully mainstream in the 2000s.
Design News Webinar Series
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
6/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
5/13/2014 10:00 a.m. California / 1:00 p.m. New York / 6:00 p.m. London
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Aug 18 - 22, Embedded Software Development With Python & the Raspberry Pi
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Last Archived Class
Sponsored by igus
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service