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Small Robots Could Build Landing Site For Moon Base

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the get-serious-about-moving-off-planet dept.

Robotics 199

A new NASA-sponsored study suggests that small lawnmower-sized robots could be used to build a landing site for a moon outpost. In order to be efficient a landing pad would have to be close to any structures created, but without an atmosphere to slow down the lunar sand it would sandblast the outpost, creating the need for some sort of protection. By using small robots to either build protective berms or collect rocks to "pave" a landing pad, NASA hopes to provide protection against the sand-blasting effects of a landing on the moon.

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First post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043415)

First post, from a small robot, on the moon!

Re:First post (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043967)

First post, from a small robot, on the moon!

That small anonymous robot should be FIRED

from a CANNON

into the SUN!

Re:First post (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044829)

Impossible. Minimum latency from the moon is ~2 seconds. No way someone could get FP with that much lag.

Robots building sand structures (3, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043425)

Now I know how I'm gonna win that sand castle contest this year...

Yeah right? (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043429)

If robots could be used in construction this complex, they already would. Right up here in Minnesota, there is a huge need for road repair and construction. If there was any way to automate the process more than it already is, it would be done by now. Any robot that could withstand the punishment of construction work would need to be very heavy, and also have a lot of redundancy built into it. It's one thing to make a little mini-rover with a camera and some sampling equipment. It's quite another to put a Caterpillar, cement truck, and support equipment up there, and expect it not to break. Sorry, but human beings need to be there... There are some things robots just can't do -- like repair themselves automatically. And I mean that in practical real-world terms, not in the laboratory.

Build it on Earth first and make it work, then we'll talk about the moon.

Re:Yeah right? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043445)

Linus Torvalds is now in Hell. And it is not relevant that Linus Torvalds boasted that he does not believe in Hell when he lived on earth. He believes in Hell now. Like the rich man that the Lord Jesus told about in Luke 16, who died and in Hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments and he cried, "Lord Abraham have mercy on me, and send Lazarus the beggar on earth, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in flame." Luke 16:23,24. When told that he could not have a drop of water, forever, though tormented in flames, he begged somebody to rise from the dead to preach to his kinfolk, thus they also die and come to his place of torment. Linus Torvalds the filthy blasphemer, the obscene pottymouth skeptic, agnostic and profane atheist had nothing but disdain for God and the Bible, all the days of his tragic life is at this minute and and forever writhing and screaming in exquisite pain, pleading for mercy from that God he flipped off while performing for NBC lucre. Montalban made lots of money making fun of god, now he must deal with God face to face forever. The Lord the God repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them, he will not be slapped to them that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Deut. 7:10. When Montalban died January the fourteenth, he split hell wide open at once, as it is written, "Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming. It stirreth up the dead for thee. All they shall speak and say unto thee: art thou also become weak as we 'Linus Torvalds?' The worm is spread unto thee, and the worms cover thee. Isaiah 14:9,10. Westboro Baptist Church exists to publish Gospel truth and thereby to expose Satanic lies. Linus Torvalds is in hell, deal with it! You will soon join him there, America is doomed! We will picket Linus Torvalds's funeral.

No hitchikers (5, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043531)

No weather on the moon. No thieves. No vandals. No vegetation. No mud. 1/6th gee. No wind to blow piles of dirt away. It's a simpler environment to work in.

Forget the construction work, could you build a rover that would last 90 days in Minnesota. just driving around photographing things?

Re:No hitchikers (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043601)

Few worries of running over innocent civilians and being sued into oblivion...

Re:No hitchikers (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043623)

no atmosphere to burn up or to slow/deflect meteors, those robots would be sitting ducks to the full force of meteor impacts, even marble sized meteors would be like shooting those robots with a high powered rifle...

Re:No hitchikers (4, Interesting)

Walkingshark (711886) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043741)

I somehow doubt this is going to be much of an issue. Chances are much higher for something like damage from thermal expansion/contraction from driving in and out of shadows to do in a rover, or getting that nasty abrasive moon dust into the moving parts.

Re:No hitchikers (3, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043751)

It's possible some spacecraft have been hit by meteorites large enough to damage them, but space is pretty damned empty... even in crowded neighborhoods like LEO and the vicinity of Jupiter and Saturn (including Saturn's ring system) the biggest impacts are from dust-sized chunks. When probes fail they look for defects in design or operation before even considering impacts.

Re:No hitchikers (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043891)

no drivers to get pissed off if you have to close the area down for a year for instruction instead of 2 months.

(i.e. The timetables on the moon don't need to be nearly as short as on earth, allowing for potentially slower problem solving).

You don't have the fiscal cost of the land on the moon, and if the system is automated (or mostly automated), the workforce time will will be less costly as well.

Re:Yeah right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043553)

Mod the girlintraining up! This is exactly my problem with the terraformists. They say "Oh, we just need to do this on another planet and everything will be okay." Nevermind that the "this" is something we aren't even remotely approaching be able to accomplish right here in our own backyard. Nevermind that we can't do it here, we "only" need to be able to do it in some remote place where we don't even send humans. Yeah, right indeed!

NIMBY (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043793)

They say "Oh, we just need to do this on another planet and everything will be okay." Nevermind that the "this" is something we aren't even remotely approaching be able to accomplish right here in our own backyard.

Well, you know, when you're talking about slamming cruise-liner chunks of ice into a planet, I'll be the first to say "Not In My Back Yard".

Re:Yeah right? (2, Insightful)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043571)

The equiment would need to be that robust on Earth because of how heavy the building materials will be, and because those materials themselves need to be hearty enough to last through the effects of our corrosive atmosphere and stresses induced by the refreezing of water. With 1/6th the gravity and no atmospheric conditions, construction on the moon could be no more than a polymer bag filled up with moon dust and coiled into a simple igloo. Aside from getting the parts there and automating them to run unmanned or remotely, the working environment would not be that bad.

Re:Yeah right? (2, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044451)

I don't think you realize how drastically you are oversimplifying. The conditions are different, but not particularly easier. But competition from humans is nil, because humans need to carry life support. The equivalent for robots is much simpler. (Non-volatile greases, UV protection [i.e., no external plastic parts], etc.)

Repair is probably going to be a problem. I expect that at least initially any non-functioning robot is going to need to be scrapped. But with care it's probable that many can be kept going for years. Grit will be a major problem.

The lighter gravity means that the robots can have a lighter construction, but it also means that any berm will need to be higher. And the lack of water means that one can't use concrete.

I think this project may be just on the far side of currently possible. Which means that be the time it gets implemented it's likely to be bleeding edge.

radiation protection, prooly more important (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044535)

Future settlements will still need radiation protection, which will still be the major environmental concern for future lunar inhabitants (Lunites?)

Anyone remember how deep the soil base would need to be? Obviously without any atmosphere and magnetic shield cosmic rays and other high powered radiation will still penetrate the soil shield.

Re:radiation protection, prooly more important (3, Insightful)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044681)

The soil shield would be for protection from micrometeorites and also keep the area inside in constant shade, reducing thermal effects that may be caused while transitioning from sun to shade. a properly shielded and pressurized habitat could then be constructed within. The habitat could use a magnetic field generator [bbc.co.uk] in combination with other shielding materials to protect the "Lunarians".

Re:Yeah right? (2, Interesting)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044753)

Of course I'm oversimplifying, it's an off the cuff comment on an internet message board. My main point is that its the dynamic conditions on Earth which cause the most harm, while on the moon many of those concerns are static (even static electricity, har har). Given a choice between the two, most engineers would rather solve the straightforward problem, with a well constrained range of variables, than the constantly shifting ones brought on by our climate.

Re:Yeah right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27044509)

Your post betrays a complete ignorance of the lunar environment. Whoever modded you insightful is as wrong as you are. In the future, please do not comment on this subject matter, as your comments add no value.

Re:Yeah right? (1)

ChrisA90278 (905188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044861)

No the moon really is a bad place to build stuff. Yes there are no storms or wind. But moon dust, unlike dust on Earth or even mars looks and cats like ground glass. The stuff gets into everything and is very abrasive. Anything that moves will not last long unless you figure a way to keep the dust away.

Here on Earth crushed rock (sand) becomes rounded quickly. But not on the moon.

Re:Yeah right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043579)

It seems from the post that they are talking more about just clearing the area, making a few embankmens, that sort of thing, just earth works, which sounds alot more feesible than actual construction of roads, buildings etc.

It depends... (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043591)

On just what the lunar soil is really like. We know a few bits from the various moon missions but its not like anyone tries to dig anything around up there. If the lunar soil was just a big pile of dust, then a robot pushing it around is rather doable. But if it had all sorts surprises in it, rocks, differences in composition that changes the way one digs, well then, the robots will run into problems.

Re:Yeah right? (5, Insightful)

xonar (1069832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043599)

...If there was any way to automate the process more than it already is, it would be done by now.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

Sound familiar?

I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (5, Funny)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043611)

If there was any way to automate the process more than it already is, it would be done by now.

Do you have any concept of which you are speaking? Why on earth (lol) would you want to further automate road construction in Minnesota? Human labor on this planet is pretty cheap, even if it is unionized. When you have fly that labor to off word, hiring someone to scrub the great wall of china with a toothbrush is cheap in comparison.

Robots don't need air, food, or water. They can work for long periods of time in utterly hostile environments with little to no supervision. They don't get sick or bored. They can be mass produced. When you are done with them, they don't want to go home. And, they have yet to rise up and try to enslave humanity, which is more than we can say for humanity.

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (1)

Daffy Duck (17350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043705)

Robots also don't experience fear, doubt, or vanity. Plus they need no fuel, no maintenance, and are impervious to physical damage.

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043801)

Robots also don't experience fear,

Of course not

doubt,

Never!

or vanity.

It's not vanity; we are perfect.

Signed,
Your Hidden Robotic Overlords

p.s.: get back to work, fleshy servitor, or we'll reassign you to pave our Lunar Base landing pads!

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044669)

p.s.: get back to work, fleshy servitor, or we'll reassign you to pave our Lunar Base landing pads!

Geeze. So on the plus side, robots don't experience fear, doubt, or vanity. On the minus side, they are kinda dicks.

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043871)

Why on earth (lol) would you want to further automate road construction in Minnesota? Human labor on this planet is pretty cheap, even if it is unionized.

Where I have heard this argument before? Oh, yeah, the automotive industry ca. the 1970s. Right. That turned out to be true, didn't it?

Well, except it didn't.

Robots don't need air, food, or water. They can work for long periods of time in utterly hostile environments with little to no supervision. They don't get sick or bored. They can be mass produced. When you are done with them, they don't want to go home. And, they have yet to rise up and try to enslave humanity, which is more than we can say for humanity.

All of those arguments work just as well in Minnesota as they do on Luna. Sorry to have to point this out, but you just proved yourself wrong.

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044379)

All of those arguments work just as well in Minnesota as they do on Luna.

MN is a much more hostile environment for robots than the moon is.

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043905)

Do you have any concept of which you are speaking?

Minneapolis/St.Paul metropolitan area is rapidly becoming snarled in traffic jams. We've recently deployed a light-rail transit system, serving approximately a dozen stops. It was wildly successful and there are plans to expand it, with the next leg going over the recently rebuilt 35E bridge that (as you might recall) fell into the river a year ago. Our public transit system though, bluntly stated, has the suck. Really, unless your destination is downtown, or your transportation is within minneapolis/st.paul proper, you'll be spending hours riding and waiting. Which means that in Minnesota, as soon as you can afford it -- you buy a car. Insurance, by the way, is mandatory. We have a relatively high cost of living index as well. Not only that, but our traffic system is already being pushed beyond capacity. Experiments in "high occupancy vehicle lanes" to secure federal tax dollars have frustrated commuters because it's being used largely as a toll system for the upper-class to bypass traffic snarls, especially along 394 and the 35E (burnsville)->94(minneapolis) corridor.

Why on earth (lol) would you want to further automate road construction in Minnesota? Human labor on this planet is pretty cheap, even if it is unionized.

Presently, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has a budget of approximately 2.2 billion dollars per year. We just biffed a few hundred million on reconstructing a bridge that fell into the river (oops), so we're kinda tight on funding right now. There are redesigns planned for most major freeway/freeway interchanges inside the 694/494 beltway, and we are already at capacity -- with average commute times of over 45 minutes. The budget has grown annually perhaps 5-9%, while the usage patterns indicate at least 15-23% (depending on who you ask) rises over the same period. In short, we're not keeping up. Adding insult to injury -- unlike California where temperatures are relatively constant and weather-related road repairs are at a minimum, leading to highway lifespans of 50 years or more... Up here in Minnesota, we need to resurface the roads perhaps every 5-7 years, and rebuild them entirely every 20 years or so due to high temperature variations and constant humidity and weathering. Concrete roads, common throughout most of the country, are not used here except for overpasses and select areas because they fall apart too quickly under weather conditions -- necessitating the use of less-robust black-top. So our per-mile maintenance costs are higher. As well, unlike in other parts of the world, we have at least a third of the year in which we can't build roads -- because the ground is frozen!

In short, labor is more expensive up here, the build times are shorter, the demand is rising faster than supply, and alternatives simply don't exist. Why robots? Because they can work at -40 temperatures, doing 16 hour shifts. Because human labor is damned expensive up here, and because automation means we can do more work for our dollars spent. That is, if such technology existed. But it doesn't. Every mile of road we build takes a team of twenty people working at least a couple days. And it's crap work that nobody wants to do, and only a small subset of the population is physically capable OF doing -- which is why, regardless of how well it pays, there's going to remain a shortage.

EARTH is the hostile environment... (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044263)

Why robots? Because they can work at -40 temperatures, doing 16 hour shifts.

Except they can't, because apart from the fact that you're lucky to get 8 hours of sunshine in MN when it's -40 out, things like rain and snow and vandals and wind and mud and thieves that make your average human grumble in the pub after work bollix up robots completely.

Every mile of road we build takes a team of twenty people working at least a couple days.

You're building roads damn fast in MN.

The robots we're talking about only have to build 160 feet of dirt-pile. They don't even have to compact it. And they can take six months to do the job. And, again, they don't have to worry about wind and rain and green things with teeth and Mrs Cake.

Re:EARTH is the hostile environment... (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044471)

And there is the whole low gravity thing to help out.

Re:EARTH is the hostile environment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27044565)

Ok. No worries about Mrs. Cake, but what about all those moon dragons? Plus, what happens if someday one of the elephants forgets to move it's leg aside to let the moon go past? Bye bye moon.

Minnesota cheese road mining robots. (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044427)

Every mile of road we build takes a team of twenty people working at least a couple days. And it's crap work that nobody wants to do, and only a small subset of the population is physically capable OF doing -- which is why, regardless of how well it pays, there's going to remain a shortage.

I think you are missing the point. I really don't care what you advocate as a solution for road construction in Minnesota.

The article is about robots building things on the moon. Your initial post suggested that humans would be a better choice, and you attempted to back your thesis with examples from Minnesota, which although they are both composed primarily of cheese, bear no resemblance to each other from logistical standpoints. Therefore, I would suggest that your thesis is flawed, and should be discounted.

However, your above post is quite informational, and should /. post an article on Minnesota road construction, I would encourage you to repost it.

Re:Minnesota cheese road mining robots. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044703)

Your initial post suggested that humans would be a better choice, and you attempted to back your thesis with examples from Minnesota,

Thesis is a big word for such a small idea, which is this: Humans can do it now. Robots cannot. It's unlikely given economic pressures already in place that robots will be created anytime soon to do this affordably. Therefore, humans are the best option because they can do it. Robots are a nice theoretical fluffy bunny.

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (2, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044459)

Most of it IS done by robots. That giant tractor looking machine that resurfaces the road while it has a driver is 90% automated and makes the process MUCH faster than we could in past. There is no point in removing the rest of the crew because for the remaining jobs they do humans are still cheaper.

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044579)

In Minnesota robots are a bad choice. If you choose to go with non-human laborers (back-hoe, anyone) then non-automated equipment is currently much cheaper. Even if you go fully mechanized, telefactor operated + minimal local robotic control would be much cheaper. There's no problem with light-speed delaying reaction times when you are so local.

N.B.: AFTER the robots have proven themselves on the moon, altered versions will start appearing on Earth. But paying for the development for use on Earth is silly. We've already got a very large unemployment problem.

P.S.: Some projections that I've seen estimate that there will be over 50% unemployment within 10 years due to increase in automation. NOT robots, in any normal meaning of the word. (Do you consider an automated fork-lift a robot? If so then the robots have already started eliminating jobs...and saving the companies that use them LOTS of money.)

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044393)

"Robots don't need air, food, or water. They can work for long periods of time in utterly hostile environments with little to no supervision. They don't get sick or bored. They can be mass produced. When you are done with them, they don't want to go home. And, they have yet to rise up and try to enslave humanity, which is more than we can say for humanity."

Wow... China when it was building the great wall must have confused people with robots. Thats probably why so many people died while they were building the wall. People != robots... i gotta remember that for future reference.

Re:I for one, *sigh*...too easy... (1)

carvalhao (774969) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044635)

"have yet to rise up and try to enslave humanity, which is more than we can say for humanity." Brilliant sentence!!! Can I quote you on that one?

Re:Yeah right? (1)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043785)

So how much shielding is needed to protect humans from solar radiation on the surface of the moon? It might be easier to get the first few humans on the moon with prefab structures that simply set down, and allow humans to work beneath it. Look at the Bigelow space module. Something like that, with additional protection, could make for a fast settlement where humans can work with robots/tools to do the real heavy lifting (besides, things are a little less heavy on the moon).

I think conventional construction of permanent structures is quiet a long way away.

Re:Yeah right? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043807)

They've had rovers on Mars for several years now... a 3 hour tour turned long term expedition. All they need to do is the same thing.... with a shovel.

The moon is closer, and gets the same sunlight as Earth versus less than half on Mars. Other than dealing with several weeks of dark when the moon faces earth there's not much difference as Mars has to shut down for "winter" when sunlight drops below enough to recharge the batteries.

Re:Yeah right? (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044275)

They've had rovers on Mars for several years now... a 3 hour tour turned long term expedition. All they need to do is the same thing.... with a shovel.

The moon is closer, and gets the same sunlight as Earth versus less than half on Mars. Other than dealing with several weeks of dark when the moon faces earth there's not much difference as Mars has to shut down for "winter" when sunlight drops below enough to recharge the batteries.

Added advange on Luna: no weather to blow moondust and coat solar cells in dust. They'll stay mostly clean pretty much forever.

Re:Yeah right? (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043915)

Ever here of a grease pen? How about Tang?

Re:Yeah right? (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044075)

If robots could be used in construction this complex, they already would. Right up here in Minnesota, there is a huge need for road repair and construction. If there was any way to automate the process more than it already is, it would be done by now. Any robot that could withstand the punishment of construction work would need to be very heavy, and also have a lot of redundancy built into it. It's one thing to make a little mini-rover with a camera and some sampling equipment. It's quite another to put a Caterpillar, cement truck, and support equipment up there, and expect it not to break. Sorry, but human beings need to be there... There are some things robots just can't do -- like repair themselves automatically. And I mean that in practical real-world terms, not in the laboratory.

Build it on Earth first and make it work, then we'll talk about the moon.

Think of this as a way to redistribute the wealth involved in those porkulus packages. After all, it's about creating jobs.

Now, these things reside in their respective spheres. Developing robots to pave Earthbound roads is way more expensive than hiring some semi-skilled out-of-work guys to stand around while the two-lane highway is reduced to one-way traffic.

However, developing something like this for the moon, where not much changes in the course of a day, makes sense.

It also employs downsized engineers and other smart people. And when they get paid, they run right to the store and blow it on a big TV! And that makes the economy go!

Re:Yeah right? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044329)

I'm sure they *will* build it on Earth and make it work before they try it on Luna. But I have my doubts that they'll try it in Minnesota. That's not a very similar environment. White Sands, maybe.

Also, note that construction on the moon can afford to pay much more per robot because the cost of humans is so extraordinarily high.

Re:Yeah right? (1)

Klintus Fang (988910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044873)

you are forgetting that it is enormously expensive to export human labor to the moon because humans require atmosphere to prevent their blood vessels from exploding and require oxygen to prevent suffocation. humans also require that the landing on the surface be a light touch down to prevent them from being crushed on impact.

robots, have none of these issues. they don't breath. they can be designed to function in the absence of atmosphere and they can be built to withstand high impact landings (which are cheaper) that would crush a human.

none of those are issues on earth because earth has an atmosphere, that atmosphere is made up of breathable air, and driving or taking public transportation to a work site is much simpler and cheaper then sitting on the head of a giant missile.

Why not use a crater wall? (3, Interesting)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043431)

Why not use a crater wall? Put the landing strip on the outside, the base on the inside, and cut a tunnel? (And build a ramp over/around for the big stuff.)

Re:Why not use a crater wall? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043707)

Because building a wall is easier than doing that?

Re:Why not use a crater wall? (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044007)

The crater wall might keep the sandworms out too!

Re:Why not use a crater wall? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044231)

That's fine for an eventual large scale project for a permanent lunar base. We're still in the small scale initial landings stage, using a fancy RV and a prefab as a base station. They want to protect the RV and the whatever prefab hab. they bring with them.

That's no moon... it's target practice (2, Funny)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043441)

Just don't let the Chinese know where your moon base is going to be, they'll crash into it.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7917957.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:That's no moon... it's target practice (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043695)

I hope they didn't knock any of our flags [wikipedia.org] over, we'll have to send someone back to set them up again...

Re:That's no moon... it's target practice (1)

HonIsCool (720634) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043937)

That flag is already knocked over by the exhaust fumes from the ascent stage. And maybe even disintegrated by now...

Re:That's no moon... it's target practice (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044127)

That flag is already knocked over by the exhaust fumes from the ascent stage.

Maybe that's what Apollo 12 was for then...

Re:That's no moon... it's target practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27044267)

Well, if they're doing target practice, they stole our plans and got a cheap knockoff "moon impactor weapon" out before we did:

http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

Ours will make bigger splash. Potentially visible to the naked eye (or at least binoculars) type splash.

60 years of Science FIction (1)

Technopaladin (858154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043443)

and someone wants to make berms of Moon rock and sand with robots. Convential explosives might be cheaper and certainly more entertaining. WOnder how much a space plow will cost?

Re:60 years of Science FIction (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044087)

Plus, most of the material you're removing will end up in orbit...giving our moon a stunning ring system...Who wouldn't want to go there then?

Yeah I know the interaction with the Earth makes setting up a lunar-synchronous orbit very difficult and pretty much precludes any sort of ring system...but just imagine how pretty it'd be!

Re:60 years of Science FIction (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044319)

Plus, most of the material you're removing will end up in orbit...giving our moon a stunning ring system...Who wouldn't want to go there then? Yeah I know the interaction with the Earth makes setting up a lunar-synchronous orbit very difficult and pretty much precludes any sort of ring system...but just imagine how pretty it'd be!

Actually, it sounds exceptionally dangerous to incoming spacecraft...

Re:60 years of Science FIction (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044413)

So long as we're agreed its exceptional.

MOON-E (2, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043485)

It's all well and good until a some half iPod, half egg timer robot swoops in and steals all the plants out of your greenhouse.

Re:MOON-E (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043573)

half iPod, half egg timer

So just a full egg timer then?

There is a moon base already there (1)

MicrosoftElitist (1138973) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043487)

It was built by aliens some time ago.

Seems like a good idea to me (1)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043511)

While I like the idea of manned exploration, I think sending in robots, or near autonomous robots first is a good idea. For tasks like this they have great advantages of more simple life sort. I envision a large roomba. [amazon.com] PS. It was hard not to just post "Cylons were created by man . . ."

Lawnmower size? (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043547)

Sheesh. How about a standard unit of measurement here, like Volkswagen Beetles or African male elephants or telephone directories? Tell me they at least expressed their hard drive size in multiples of Libraries of Congress.

Re:Lawnmower size? (2, Informative)

Lord Pillage (815466) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043821)

They need the rover to be able to push aside the equivalent of 1.8 Olympic Swimming Pools of sand. It also needs to be able to traverse the grand canyon 3 times.

Re:Lawnmower size? (4, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043917)

1 Lawnmower = 0.1 Volkswagen Beetles = 20 telephone directories.

Found via Google.

One day... (1)

vistapwns (1103935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043557)

People are going to figure out you need nanorobotics for this type of stuff, and will stop f-ing around and build the damn things.

Re:One day... (2, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044211)

yeah - then the nanobots go all wrong and reduce the moon to a lifeless planet of grey rock and dust. what will you do then?

von Neumann probes/machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043581)

We can't even build these here on Earth yet, but when we can I assume stupid shit like moving dirt around should be trivial.

Someone remind me why... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043589)

we're relying on NASA for this sort of thing? Where in the constitution does it say that space exploration is solely a government endeavor to be borne largely by the American taxpayer? If they were ever truly allowed to compete, the private sector would blow NASA away in terms of both speed and cost.

Re:Someone remind me why... (0)

Klintus Fang (988910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044915)

nobody is stopping private industry from competing. private industry is in fact beginning to catch up and will supplant NASA if it ever does. it has a ways to go yet.

Avoid the target area!! (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043607)

I would not want the landing pad right next to the outpost unless you have achieved the impossible with 100% error/malfunction free operation of the lander vehicle hardware and software, eliminate human error, and have assassinated Murphy.

Re:Avoid the target area!! (3, Funny)

RabidMoose (746680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043973)

We attempted to assasinate Murphy, but it all went horribly wrong.

Re:Avoid the target area!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27044143)

Did it all go wrong, or just the thing(s) that could go wrong?

Trojan Seabees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043661)

With what we can learn solving this one, we can eliminate the need to send people for the rest of the mission. Meanwhile a robotics program gets funding under the guise a being a 'send people' program.

I like it. I think there's plenty of advantages running a mission remotely through robots versus remotely through the incredibly clumsy gloves of space suits. And boy if you want to talk about NASA funded research with a terrific 'trickledown' effect, solving the various robotics problems involved with this would be it. Good idea.

Crater (4, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043671)

I think constructing berms and such is redundant. After a few typical NASA landing attempts, there should be a nice crater at the landing site with berms to protect the base.

Re:Crater - moderated insightful??? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043943)

All I can say is "whooosh"

Re:Crater (1)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044603)

I agree. Quick n dirty, the bots can build a road into the crater and the pad itself at the bottom, using materials on hand.

Creating robots is a bad idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27043689)

How many times have there been stories of creating robots to do the dirty work for humans? The Terminator, The Matrix, Battlestar Galactica are a few stories out there.

Re:Creating robots is a bad idea! (2, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043765)

OMFG! Those were REAL? I thought those were just fiction!

Re:Creating robots is a bad idea! (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043813)

I, for one, live in terror at the idea that machines built for shoving sand around in 1/6th gravity might someday rise up to destroy me. When the last of the brain-apes is buried knee deep in a sad little grit pile, truly they shall rue the day they created the earthmover robot.

Re:Creating robots is a bad idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27044823)

Oh, I don't think it's all that crazy to fear pusher robots from space [albinoblacksheep.com] (warning: flash)

Re:Creating robots is a bad idea! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044899)

Don't be so suspicious, they are here to protect us!

Re:Creating robots is a bad idea! (1)

rattis (125942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043897)

"The Two Faces of Tomorrow" by James P. Hogan is the first thing that came to my mind.

Re:Creating robots is a bad idea! (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043913)

The Terminator, The Matrix, Battlestar Galactica are a few stories out there.

You should probably destroy your computer, just to be safe.

Re:Creating robots is a bad idea! (1)

Klintus Fang (988910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044947)

afterall, his computer is smarter than those robots are likely to be...

Sweet! At that gravity... (2, Insightful)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043867)

Mouser Mecha-Catbot might have a shot at beating BioHazard.

Graviton flux (5, Funny)

this great guy (922511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043869)

Why doesn't NASA simply use a reverse graviton flux to land the spacecraft without any rocket blowing towards the lunar sand ? Oh wait... you guys haven't discovered yet how to create gravitons right ? Shit. I hope I haven't modified this timeline too much by revealing things you aren't supposed to know. Shitshitshit.

Sandblast First (2, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043877)

Many small vs. one large makes good sense in case of failure(s). Either way, why not blast the dust away as the preparation stage? A squadron of small crawlers with a high gas expansion motor (for simplicity, monopropellant such as UDMH, as in Shuttle steering thrusters or H2O2 as in Armadillo's landers) pointed ahead and slightly down. They'd line up side by side, crawl away from the base site, blasting the dust away in front of them like a line of snow blowers.

Yes, this design might require more mass to be sent to the moon initially due to the mass of reaction gas. However it leaves a bunch of functional crawlers for other tasks plus a bunch of functional motors that can be used to construct suborbital lifters.

If there's water ice, they could be constructed to harvest it, use the solar UV to convert it to H2O2, and be self-refilling. This would be slower because where there's ice there's less sunlight. Armadillo's designs would be very likely to be adaptable because they've built not only H2O2 lifter motors, but also H2O2 production facilities. A digger/UV/vacuum design is very different from their fuel production design (quite likely far more reliable), but they have some experience with the subject, and already have award money for designing landers.

Re:Sandblast First (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043969)

I think you are being far too optimistic about the extent of the sand/dust and also the effectiveness of blowing it away.

So the robots build it...but (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 5 years ago | (#27043953)

Who says they'll let us land there?!1! After all that work our base are belong to them.

That's no moon... (1)

PearsSoap (1384741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044015)

... it's a parking lot. Is there any option to move the lander off the landing pad to free up the space?

Re:That's no moon... (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044171)

They've replaced parking lots, and put up a paradise.

Fire the robots (1)

inthedump (1484859) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044083)

Fire the robots, hire monkeys instead. Simians have more brains and intelligence. Why spend more money developing complex machines when we have cheap apes around who will do the work for free?

Re:Fire the robots (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044215)

Robots don't breathe, or fling their own poo...

...yet

Re:Fire the robots (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044279)

I'll go. Tomorrow. Somebody get me a shovel and a suit.

Berms or pavement (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044487)

The article talks about two approaches: building protective berms, or paving with rocks large enough that they don't get blasted away.

This, being the first ever attempt at building such a facility, might be the time to try both approaches simultaneously?

mass driver (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044649)

This is great! That is until the alien AI, which has a prime directive requiring destruction of all biological infestations, tells the robots to build a mass driver with which it either bombards Earth with large chunks of rock or completely de-orbits the Moon.

Go further (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27044925)

Instead of just have robots construct the station, have them man it also. The savings from not having life support and safety systems would be tremendous. It would greatly reduce the cost of manned missions to almost that of unmanned missions!!! . . . . . oh, wait

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