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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Robots for cave exploration on Mars and Moon

CMU robot for subterranean mapping
NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology Inc. for a contract to develop robotic teams to explore extensive caves on Mars, the Moon, and other planetary destinations. Astrobotic will develop robots that cooperate to overcome the challenges of underground planetary missions: no light for solar power, radio communications blocked by rock, and mobility challenged by rough terrain. Through a subcontract to Carnegie Mellon University, the research will build on multi-robot and subterranean robot research pioneered at CMU to improve capabilities and reduce risk of failure relative to single-robot missions.
The lunar rover expedition being created by Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University has been selected by Popular Science magazine as one the 100 best innovations of the year. The December issue named Astrobotic and its founder Dr. William “Red” Whittaker as the “Leader of the New Moon Race.” 
A spin-out from Carnegie Mellon University, Astrobotic delivers payloads and collects data for space agencies, aerospace corporations and academic researchers. The first expedition in 2014-15 will carry scientific instruments, engineering experiments and sample components that space agencies and companies want to test in the lunar environment.

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