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NASA to Demonstrate Moon Rover

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the 0-to-60-in-never dept.

Moon 98

coondoggie writes "NASA will this week demonstrate its lunar robot rover equipped with a drill designed to find water and oxygen-rich soil on the moon. NASA said the engineering challenge of building such as drilling system was daunting because a robot rover designed for prospecting within lunar craters has to operate in continual darkness at extremely cold temperatures with little power. The moon has one-sixth the gravity of Earth, so a lightweight rover will have a difficult job resisting drilling forces and remaining stable.The project is just one demonstration of the collaboration NASA is utilizing to bring together its next moon shot. For example, Carnegie Mellon was responsible for the robot's design and testing, and the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology built the drilling system. NASA's Glenn Research Center contributed the rover's power management system. NASA's Ames Research Center built a system that navigates the rover in the dark. The Canadian Space Agency funded a Neptec camera that builds three-dimensional images of terrain using laser light, NASA said."

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But... (0, Redundant)

UseTheSource (66510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22588978)

Does it run Linux?

Aliens (3, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589054)

Does it run Linux?

Good question. I'm more interested in if they're going to ask observers to wear "alien" costumes while they film it. A few years from now, after the "landing" on the moon, they show their footage of the moon "landing" with the "aliens" who happened to be there and tell Congress that they need more money to investigate these "aliens". After all, NASA has learned their lesson from the first fake...I mean the first landing.

Re:Aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22589256)

Duuuuude! That was kind of funny. I wouldn't give up your day job or anything. But, WTF is it with the MODs?!? The faking of the Moon landing has been a running joke on /. since the 90s.

Re:Aliens (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589268)

Dude, give it up. That was the worst attempt at trolling I've ever seen. If you want aliens you need to go to my journal [slashdot.org] . Well actually that one's not a good example, the alien is only mentioned in passing. It's more about alcohol and drugs and violence and attempted murder and what's worse, shooting pool. The entry from last year titled Alien Invader [slashdot.org] would be more to your liking.

I called the cops on the alien. The stupid alien almost got hauled off to jail.

-mcgrew

(PS- downmodding myself here, no karma bonus on this one as it's only on topic for the troll it bites.)

Re:Aliens (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589386)

I know this is just flamebait but ... The lunar landing can be fairly easily proven irrefutably from earth. When they were up there they left behind laser reflecting arrays. What those do is you point a laser at it and it reflects the laser back directly at you. So people with a powerful laser and telescope can pick it up easily enough. As well the americans were in a space race with the russians, HAD the us faked it why would the russians not call them on it? It made them look like crap and they easily had the tech to check. Also lunar rocks if you have taken 1st yr chem are pretty irrefutable.

Not "flamebait". (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589500)

I know this is just flamebait but ...

No, it's not "flamebait". The joke about the lunar landing being faked has been a running joke here on /. for a while. The lunar landing being faked is as outrageous as all of us are really inhabited by alien life forces or that all of us are decedents from just two people.

I guess my sense of humor isn't shared by others. I wish I could just post a fart or something. That seams to be the standard of humor these days.

Re:Not "flamebait". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22589786)

Farts are fuunny. Hahaha owww my bawls!

Were you asleep in sex-ed class? (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590464)

The lunar landing being faked is as outrageous as all of us are really inhabited by alien life forces or that all of us are decedents from just two people.

I don't know how things worked in your family but I descended from two people (who each descended from two people, who each descended from two people...).

Re:Were you asleep in sex-ed class? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22592500)

Nahhhh you are the product of an egg and a sperm falling in love. I supposed technically you were really given life by dna polymerase. But then again if you realllly think about it its just nucleic acid. Then again the business end of nucleic acid is really just a few nucleotides. But the business end of that is either purine or pyrimidine. And if you think about it they are just like 10 or so atoms. Which are really just a collection of quarks. Atleast thats how i explain why i was born strange, yet charming and very confused about what direction i should be heading. In any case, your birth was something like 100000000 quarks working together in unison to build you not so much two people.

I slept in Bible class (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 5 years ago | (#22609582)

I don't know how things worked in your family but I descended from two people (who each descended from two people, who each descended from two people...)

All the way back to Adam and Eve, I take it?

Re:Aliens (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590494)

It's obvious. The Russian's also faked their own space program.

There never was a Cold War, it was all one big fake to move the entire world towards the new world order.

Re:Aliens (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590804)

So it runs Debian Linux?

Moooon Roverrrr! (2, Funny)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589336)

Wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style someday
You dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're going I'm going your way
Two drifters off to see the world
Theres such a lot of world to see
Were after the same rainbows end
Waiting round the band
My huckleberry friend, Moon Rover
And me

No, it's... (2, Funny)

UseTheSource (66510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589416)

We're whalers on the moon,
We carry a harpoon.
But there ain't no whales So we tell tall tales And sing our whaling tune...

No, it's..... (1)

Khmer Luge (1000550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589958)

Moooooooooooon rover
I believe you can operate during the endless lunar niii-iiiight

A valid question... (1)

UseTheSource (66510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589654)

It's an article in Network World, but there's no mention of the hardware or OS/software they've used for this robotic rover. The technical details are sparse for a supposedly technical publication. I'm sure I'm not the only one that's interested in knowing more beyond this broad overview.

Re:But... (1)

srichard25 (221590) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590314)

Do we really need all this complexity? Can't we just send Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck? We could even give Bruce a 2-way ticket.

Re:But... (1)

domj00 (544223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22591286)

As a matter of fact it does. As a mockup it ran Ubuntu. A month ago that changed, it's now a version of Fedora Core from a few years (for better compatibility with another robot).

the real challenge... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22588988)

is hopping over 2 troughs in rapid succession while shooting the moguls that immediately follow

Drilling? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589060)

Bring on the dynamite!

Re:Drilling? (2, Insightful)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589244)

I don't know about extracting H2, and O2, but since Regolith is a pain the ass for the astronauts I'm thinking a rover could be sent to blast away a nice work area for them to arrive and have a regolith free area to set up their moonbase. I'm no rocket scientist though.

Re:Drilling? (5, Interesting)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589794)

And what your you using to blast with? I'm sorry, but your leaf blower doesn't work very efficiently at 10^-12 torr. You could use something similar to the ascend rockets they used on the lunar module (that set off the dust clouds that set of the "fake, fake" cries), but the regolith is several feet deep, so you need one hell of a blast there. You're actually better off to coat large areas with a very thin layer of binder, and keep the dust down that way.

Re:Drilling? (1)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589862)

Oh yeah no oxygen... my bad. Hey Star Wars says things blow up in space with big fiery explosions that make a lot of noise... so I believe them.

Re:Drilling? (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590930)

I don't think blast charges oxidize with the atmosphere do they? Doesn't seem like that would mix fast enough. Torpedoes don't seem to have any trouble. As for regolith, "Portable antitank weapons have become more powerful, more reliable, and more available worldwide since the early 1980s. Many of these weapons are capable of penetrating 20 to 40 inches of armor plate steel" (cite [state.nv.us] ). For that matter, anything that gets all the way from the earth to the moon is going to arrive with plenty of momentum. Maybe they could just drop a DU rod out of the probe before initiating deceleration for the landing?

Re:Drilling? (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22592160)

The problem with mechanical impacting is that that's how you got the dust in the first place, meteorite impacts. If you impact hard enough to leave a decent size crater you generate enough dust to cover the surface up again. As for your portable anti tank weapon, that's based on a hollow charge, it's exactly the wrong type of explosive. You want something that sets free a large amount of gas to push the regolith out of the way, not something that's build to concentrate all its energy in a very fast chunk of liquefied copper that burns through steal but just gets absorbed in the dust. A sodium azide charge might do the trick (the stuff they use in car air bags), a nice bang that doesn't deposit a lot of energy in the material and makes more dust.

heh. (4, Funny)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589070)

so.. what are the odds of the robotic rover being hit by a very high speed mass impacting in an attempt to locate hydrogen fired from another NASA section?

I can see it now... "mission controller! we did not find any hydrogen, but we picked up large amounts of refined titanium, gold and radioactive isotopes! aliens!"

meanwhile in another room perplexed and gloomy tech monitor their screens in woe and confusion, whilst listening to the cheers next door...

Re:heh. (1)

luder (923306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590384)

I just hope they're not giving two different names to the same mission.

Re:heh. (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22596296)

Worst of all - the rover just discovered what appears to be an artifact left by aliens seconds before rover, artifact and surroundings are are vaporized by high speed impactor.

That, for some odd reason, shares the same mission name with the now dead rover.

sighhhhhh (-1, Flamebait)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589096)

Every single time, it is the same thing... "this is so hard!"

"We have to figure out how to mount the drill??!!" Is this a new engineering issue? No, even with the lower gravity, the main 'hurdles' remain the same and the world is full of examples. Get over it.

Then, soon, the other shoe drops and all we hear is the pleading for money.

Why not just skip the BS dog/pony show, hand over the report and get on with it like (almost) every other govt. funded agency.

Re:sighhhhhh (4, Insightful)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590386)

Not enough sugar in the coffee this morning? The issues of drilling on the moon are nothing you've ever seen on earth, and none are related to the lower gravity. A few facts (I know, you don't bother with them): Your surface temperature fluctuates from -220 C to + 110 C, with 150 C difference being a good guess for most locations. There are no lubricants that will work over that range, and none that work at -220 C. You have no atmosphere to cool your drill motor, or blow the highly abrasive regolith dust off your seals and bearings. You can't drill using the standard slurry approach to move your debris out of the hole. Your nearest spare parts are 300,000 miles away, and there's no one to loosen that lug nut. You have a very limited power supply from solar cells, and any dust you allow to get on the cells you will not be able to remove. For an easy challenge, try digging a hole in the middle of the Antarctic plateau, middle of winter, with a golf cart full of supplies, and a 5 kW generator for power. Remotely controlled.

Re:sighhhhhh (1)

domj00 (544223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22591518)

Funny that you mention drilling and hurdles. Drilling requires a platform which should be (as other posters pointed out) heavy and low to the ground. Hurdles, as in boulders, are much easier to handle with lighter vehicles with plenty of ground clearance (so they can "Get over it"). So here we have two key requirements that are fundamentally at odds with one another, that's just one of the many reasons "this is so hard!"

FYI, the way Scarab solves the problem is with a nice combination of pitch averaging and variable wheel base.

Ah, here's the real plan! (2, Funny)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589106)

So the truth comes out! They are planning a rover mission, but just in case their math fails to match up and the rover ends up crashing on the moon, they will just say they were searching for hydrogen [slashdot.org] .

Re:Ah, here's the real plan! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22590228)

Joke aside, this is rover is a technology demonstrator. NASA does not currently plan to launch a lunar lander mission between now and the manned return to the moon. When Bush initially announced the Vision for Space Exploration, multiple orbiters and landers were proposed as precursors, but as NASA looked at the costs and benefits (considering there have already been 51 manned and unmanned lunar orbiters and landers from the various countries), they realized the only information that was a high priority before landing more people on the moon was more detailed maps of the lunar surface and better radiation measurements.

As a result, the only unmanned mission that was initiated is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. However, NASA found itself with a lot of extra mass on the launch vehicle, so they started taking proposals for low-cost missions to piggyback with it. Due to their interest in In-Situ Resource Utilization, LCROSS was selected to determine how much water ice exists in deeply shadowed polar craters.

Standardize? (2, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589116)

I hope the folks who work on the various rovers get together periodically and exchange ideas -- a standard data bus, a secure common operating system, reuse of algorithms, joint testing of components... could save time, money, and mistakes.

Re:Standardize? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589304)

I hope the folks who work on the various rovers get together periodically and exchange ideas -- a standard data bus, a secure common operating system, reuse of algorithms, joint testing of components... could save time, money, and mistakes.

Must... resist... making... lame microsoft joke...

AAAGH! THE AGONY!

Re:Standardize? (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589908)

On Soviet Mars, Red Screen of Death halts You?

Believe me, the Microsoft OSes weren't on my short list. I was just envisioning having a couple of RTOS and OS choices with common goals, a well-administered stable version for each, with drivers and the like controlled pretty strictly.

Re:Standardize? (1)

Kyont (145761) | more than 6 years ago | (#22596866)

a secure common operating system
Ah... so that's what SCO stands for...

(Yes, I'm kidding)

Re:Standardize? (1)

Kyont (145761) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590324)

To be fair...

NASA also notes that some, all or none of these features may be selected to be in the design of a rover that eventually goes to the moon.
That narrows it down, don't you think? Well, I'm off to explain to my boss that some, all or none of my current project may, will or might not be done either before, during or after the deadline.

Re:Standardize? (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590772)

So much for my proposal to eliminate the need for any further Moon missions by destroying the Moon.

Re:Standardize? (1)

domj00 (544223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22591212)

That is indeed the case on the autonomy side (ie, follow the mission plan without hitting anything). Most of the ideas and code have evolved through Life in the Atacama a few years ago. In many cases they were developed (either in the design or programming sense) earlier and really hit their stride on that project.

Re:Standardize? (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22592270)

Oh, yes! Zoe, the autonomous rover from NASA Ames Research Center. That's encouraging to know that work was the base for new rover code. Exactly what I'd hoped.

Less gravity (1)

jeremy128 (976915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589158)

I think that with the moon's lower gravity you could get away with hauling much more weight in batteries.

Re:Less gravity (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589308)

What would you do with batteries? I'd like to see the battery that would last for a year while drilling through stone.

Re:Less gravity (4, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589390)

I think that with the moon's lower gravity you could get away with hauling much more weight in batteries.

Look up the cost of shipping a kilo of mass to the Moon before you say that. Every kilo used up by a battery adds to the launch cost, and is a kilo not used up by a scientific instrument. And there's a hard upper limit: there are no Saturn-class launchers in the world today, so the whole payload cannot exceed the capacity of the largest Delta Heavy in the inventory.

Re:Less gravity (1)

Hyksos_Sowo (881629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22597714)

Why not simply use lunar dust to increase weight?? Using huge bag full of lunar dust.

Re:Less gravity (1)

cfpresley (832019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22598396)

The counterweight issue could be resolved with a Katamari strategy. Granted, it would unproductive weight, but it would work. The next step would be adding a Mr. Fusion to the rover, so that it could process what ever it scooped up into fuel.

Internal Combustion (3, Informative)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589394)

It's hard to beat the energy & power density of internal combustion engines. Since there is no air, your propellant is heavier, since you'd need to carry the oxidizer, but I suspect that you'd still have an advantage in range. In The Case for Mars [amazon.com] Robert Zubrin has proposed internal combustion Mars rovers that could use CO2 as an oxidizer. (I forget what the fuel is, but it can be made from methane derived from local CO2 and hydrogen.) Also, in the book The Rocket Company [hobbyspace.com] an automaker funds a trip to the moon where they use a modified SUV carrying its own oxidizer.

Re:Internal Combustion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22590398)

Also, in the book The Rocket Company an automaker funds a trip to the moon where they use a modified SUV carrying its own oxidizer.

Fictionalized account of the challenges faced by a group of seven investors and their engineering team in developing a low-cost, reusable, Earth-to-orbit launch vehicle.

drill problems (4, Informative)

Jodka (520060) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589260)

quote:

...so a lightweight rover will have a difficult job resisting drilling forces and remaining stable

I assume here they are referring to either: 1) The problem of the drill staying still and the rover rotating around it. 2) Downward force on the drill lifting the rover up.

With conventional earth-bound drilling these problem are solved in the case of 1: by using multiple counter-rotating bits and in the case of 2: Auger bits, which both remove material and bite into the material at the bottom of the hole with a screw, pulling themselves downward without requiring downward pressure on the drill.

I would certainly think that counter-rotating heads would work on the moon, though use of an auger might depend on the material properties of moon rock.

Re:drill problems (1)

zkiwi34 (974563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589512)

Good points, however I think the issue that they are talking about is starting the drilling, not problems in drilling. Mind you, given the fact that I've met junior/senior EE majors from a good US college (that will remain nameless) who cannot tell a resistor from a diode, maybe they don't know what the issues are, or how to go about solving them. The motto seems to be all too much like, if we can graduate you without you having to do anything other than play with simulators (that are presumed perfect) then we will! Luckily, the college in question has a new professor on staff who is trying to change that.

Re:drill problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22590000)

A diode is a resistor. It simply has different breakdown characteristics.

Or.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22589988)

Instead of drilling, they could crush things. That way they could call it the Crushinator. Otherwise, they will just have to call it the Drillinator, which does not sound as cool.

Re:drill problems (1)

Jodka (520060) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590012)

In followup to my own post because I did not think of it earlier:

with respect to 2) Downward force on the drill lifting the rover up:

Control of the drill feed rate and pressure would also take care of that; If the rover is lifting, reduce force and feedrate of the drill.

Re:drill problems (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590168)

Two problems, the regolith is about the the consistency of flour (somewhere in the 50 micron particle size). So you basically are trying to drill a hole in a flour silo, without being able to us the walls for support. It's also highly abrasive, and you're drilling dry, with the bits at rather low temperature (enhancing the brittleness of the drill bit).

Re:drill problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22591652)

At this point, I'd like to propose another solution. Or problem, depending on how you look at it.

Why do we not harden parts of the moon surface that we intend move around on. Equate it to laying down a concrete road or tarring pavement. Why do we not solidify parts of the moon surface where we plan on landing? Yes the substance would need to be stable at both extremes, hot and cold, however doing so would eliminate, in theory, troublesome moon-dust from clinging to space suits, wheels, and any other objects it might come into contact with. A ceramic-like substance is about the only thing I can think of that would suffice.

So in plain, why are we not 'paving' the moon for us to land on?

Re:drill problems (1)

rhennigan (833589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22592364)

Bruce Willis? Is that you?

Re:drill problems (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22594946)

Remember this is a sampling drill - not a hole making drill. Thus counter rotating bits and auger bits are Right Out.

Moon Rover? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22589266)

Moon Rover, wider than a mile?

From the Monsanto corporation (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22589400)

We're whalers on the moon,
We carry a harpoon.

But there ain't no whales,
So we tell tall tales,
and sing our whaling tune.

Proof! (5, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589418)

From TA: "NASA says it wants to put people on the moon by 2020."

Gotcha! They just admitted that they have never put people on the more before. That whole 1969 bit was just a hoax.

Re:Proof! (1)

PYRILAMPES (609544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589844)

They were there, theres a picture of a boot print on the concrete lunar surface next to the lander to prove it. And, Their second choice of a drill was to include just the boot Neil Armstrong used so they could stomp their way below the lunar surface.

Sigh... (1, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589536)

The moon has one-sixth the gravity of Earth, so a lightweight rover will have a difficult job resisting drilling forces and remaining stable.

I really tire of all the sensationlism that needs to be tied to everything. Give me a break. This problem has been solved so many times it's not even funnny. How many helicopters which essentially have 0 gravitational force to keep them straight do you see spinning out of control? And that's a complex solution. I think ships anchors are a pretty old tech that's been around a while. How about firing a few pilons into the ground for anchorage. A group of 5th graders can solve this.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22589904)

lets send a helicopter up on the moon. That will take care of everything. You are so bright. Why not apply for a job at NASA and tell them your solution, and how you can save LOADS of money for them?

Re:Sigh... (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590434)

The moon has one-sixth the gravity of Earth, so a lightweight rover will have a difficult job resisting drilling forces and remaining stable.

I really tire of all the sensationlism that needs to be tied to everything. Give me a break. This problem has been solved so many times it's not even funnny.

Right - then why don't you provide some solutions that work rather than handwaving nonsense?
 
 

How many helicopters which essentially have 0 gravitational force to keep them straight do you see spinning out of control?

Helicopters provide counter revolution forces in a wide variety of way, precisely none of which will work on the rover.
 
 

I think ships anchors are a pretty old tech that's been around a while. How about firing a few pilons into the ground for anchorage.

For the first, anchors are heavy - and spare weight allowance isn't something the rover has. For the second, how do drive the pitons without encountering the very problems you are driving the pitons to resist?
 
It isn't nearly as simply as you make out.
 
 

A group of 5th graders can solve this.

Everything is easy when all you have to do is handwave. It gets rather harder when you actually have to do it.

Re:Sigh... (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22592274)

Indeed, helicopters provide counter revolution in many ways. All of which don't rely on an atmosphere to work. In the end its all just angular velocity you need to counter, and you certainly could do it on a rover. The point of bringing up a helicopter is simply that if its been solved for an extremely complex system like that, then the moon in comparison is pretty simplistic. It can all be figured out using freshman physics.

Anchors are only heavy because they need to travel 'far' in a decent amount of time. The weight isn't there to help stop the boat, it's there to get to the bottom before you drift away from where you want to be. Far being relative to the distance a rover sits from the ground. I can drive some 6" plastic spikes into the ground for a 10'x10' canopy that will resist a 50mph wind blowing it away. That's a hell of a lot more resistence than my weight would provide.

Of course it's not this simple, however it's closer to simple than it is some colosal achievment.

Re:Sigh... (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22592944)

It can all be figured out using freshman physics.

Solving it in freshman physics has very little to do with solving it with real world hardware that can built within the constraints of time, mass, volume, budget, reliability, etc...
 
 

Anchors are only heavy because they need to travel 'far' in a decent amount of time. The weight isn't there to help stop the boat, it's there to get to the bottom before you drift away from where you want to be.

ROTFLMAO. You actually believe this?
 
 

I can drive some 6" plastic spikes into the ground for a 10'x10' canopy that will resist a 50mph wind blowing it away. That's a hell of a lot more resistence than my weight would provide.

And how do you drive those spikes from the rover without encountering the recoil/resistance effects the spikes are supposed to anchor you against in the first place?
 
 

Of course it's not this simple, however it's closer to simple than it is some colosal achievment.

As I said, stuff is always simple when you pretend the messy bits of reality can simply be handwaved away.

Re:Sigh... (2, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590440)

Absolutely...

Since helicopters use atmospheric resistance to maneuver, those tactics don't apply to the Moon, with virtually no atmosphere to use for the tail rotor to counteract tourque. Bzzzt! Wrong answer!

Firing pitons into the Moon to hold the rover down for drilling makes sense except for two points:

- Drilling operations will be limited by how many pitons you carry, and how the firing mechanism works. This also adds weight and defeats the 'lightweight' requirement.

- the mechanism to fire a piton, hold onto it, and then let go adds too much complexity. Not good.

Now you know we you and I aren't working on this project.

I might think the auger idea works, but will the auger bite into rock? What happens with loose debris?

And I have no doubt that a clever drill design will come up. Probably a combination of auger and slow-speed drilling, with more time taken instead of trying to do it too quickly and bouncing the rover around.

Then again, they could lock a wheel and drag it around like a trenching tool.. works on Mars....

Re:Sigh... (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590752)

The point was simply that the article makes this sound like it's some monumental feat to overcome. It simply isn't. It's been solved many times in many different scenarios. A reduced gravity does not affect the physics of negating angular velocity. Sorry, i'm long past the point where the potential to grow a crystal in space excites me. And this isn't exactly the kind of problem that makes me marvel either.

Getting there is a marvel, landing is a marvel. I'll even give them the fact that they can drive this thing around and into a crater as one. Drilling without spinning around in circles doesn't exactly launch my rocket.

I kind of like your last soution. It's pretty much the anchor technique, let its own force wedge something in until it stops. If you think about it, within an hour or so several viable ideas have come up. Perfected or proven no, but plausible. Hardly makes this seem over complex.

And for the record, I actually work on both the ISS and about to start on the Orion program. I know plenty of how NASA works and quite a bit of the hardware. Nothing magical about any of it. For the most part it's all motors and actuators and pumps and heaters, etc, just like on Earth.

Re:Sigh... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590848)

Well, then, damn! I oughta get a bunch of guys together and wrangle up a rover of our own.

The frame and propulsion doesn't worry me. Guts out of any cheap digital camera, with a USB bus for everything, and just a hardened RS6000 would do. I know a guy who could mod an OS for us. He'll learn all the lessons from the Mars rover project, let me tell you.

Now all we need is a 65,000 liter Coke bottle.

Seriously, we aren't that far from DIY exploration, are we? The hardest part seems the radio back to Earth. And getting it out there, of course.

ps- you didn't work on the ISS toilets, did you? That stuff is sick.

Re:Sigh... (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22591748)

Here ya go: http://www.hssensorsystems.com/hsc/proddesc_display/0,10401,CLI1_DIV25_ETI5338_PRD736,00.html [hssensorsystems.com] This is actually for the shuttle, the ISS uses the Russian shitter. We do however make the EMU, water processor which is used on the what goes into the toilet, ogygen generator which takes said water and produces oxygen and other environmental systems. The water is actually drinkable, but for the most part the still drink what's brought up to them.

at ~$250k a rad6000 flight board it's still a bit hard for your DIYer. I guess we could collect a few more coke bottles for deposit. If you take out the cost of the launch vehicle, and the cost of trying to ensure that people don't die because you messed something silly up it's all really pretty doable. In the end it is all just pumps, tubing, heat exchangers, motors, shrink tubing, etc. Picture the inside of a Russian sub in K-19 and you basically have it :)

Re:Sigh... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#22610166)

Hmm... Can I shield a consumer mainboard sufficiently to survive space?

And if that doesn't work try 6th graders......... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22590768)

I think ships anchors are a pretty old tech that's been around a while. How about firing a few pilons into the ground for anchorage. A group of 5th graders can solve this.

I'm not sure 5th graders are going to be heavy enough. Besides, they'll probably bitch and moan all the way to the moon.

Re:And if that doesn't work try 6th graders....... (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22591776)

Depends on the size of the group. Though I have to admit it is a long time to hear 'are we there yet'.

Re:And if that doesn't work try 6th graders....... (1)

AGMW (594303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22603286)

Depends on the size of the group. Though I have to admit it is a long time to hear 'are we there yet'.

Or indeed When are we there [whenarewethere.com]

This just in... (0, Redundant)

ionymous (1216224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589710)

news will be reported in the future.

Why don't we wait until the actual event happens before reporting it?

Are we supposed to be preparing ourselves or something?

day/night cycle (1)

doti (966971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589812)

to operate in continual darkness at extremely cold temperatures with little power.
Just put it to sleep, and wait for the next sunrise.
Or am I missing something?

Re:day/night cycle (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589854)

The sun doesn't shine at the bottom of some of the deepest craters.

Re:day/night cycle (2, Interesting)

doti (966971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22589954)

detach the solar panel, leave it at the top, and use a cable?
maybe too many extra complications.

Re:day/night cycle (1)

jkua (1159581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22594160)

First, the proposed mission is not spec'd to drive down into the crater, which is likely to have very steep walls covered in loose soil. That descent would be very risky, and so I believe the current mission concept is to land inside the crater, which is permanently dark and cold at about -170 C. Even if you could drive down into the crater, the issues of the mass and reliability of a tether on the order of 10km (Shackleton is 19km wide and 1km deep) are definite problems.

Re:day/night cycle (1)

doti (966971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22594612)

19km wide? You must be kidding me.
I once saw the craters on an old telescope of a friend, and they looked pretty small.

Re:day/night cycle (1)

jkua (1159581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22594768)

Nope, according to Wiki [wikipedia.org] , about half a million craters on the moon have diameters of 1km or more, with the largest being 2240km across.

Re:day/night cycle (1)

doti (966971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22599384)

I rather believe in my own eyes than in a vandalized web site.

I'm telling you: I saw them! They were about this (/makes a round shape with fingers/) big.

I think I've seen this movie. (1)

TheOldSchooler (850678) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590306)

Drilling in a low-grav environment? Maybe NASA should call in the assistance of a maverick well driller and his crew of wacky misfits to help get the job done.

Focusing on the crust instead of the meat (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590428)

It seems to be a NASA ritual to get ordered to do one thing & focus on the crust instead. So they're putting all this effort into hypothetical lunar science experiments & drawing pictures of manned habitats while ignoring the minor expensive detail of the rocket to get there. Haven't seen any progress on Ares V for years since they got ordered to put a number of basic science missions back on the budget.

"There's coffee in that moon!" (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590520)

equipped with a drill designed to find water and oxygen-rich soil on the moon
Just so long as they don't use it to mine for deuterium ore, I'm happy.

Search for water? (1)

ironman_one (520863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22590712)

Why don't they just send a satellite equipped with a CARABAS radar into orbit around the moon?
There is no atmosphere to worry about so you can use a extremely low orbit.

Re:Search for water? (1)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 6 years ago | (#22591094)

I agree. Isn't there an easier solution?
I was thinking that you could set off small explosions in the regolith and observe the spectrum emitted to determine the elements present. No need for wheels, drills, or landing systems. Just a few hundred high explosive projectiles, a telescope with a spectrometer on an orbiter and three hundred grad students back on earth to crunch the data.

Well... Those NASA people are pretty smart. I'm sure there's a reason they're going this route.

Re:Search for water? (1)

jkua (1159581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22594536)

So we've already done one impact test with Lunar Prospector and plan to do a higher energy test with LCROSS and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (in fact there's a ./ article a bit further down the front page right now). But the question of water on the moon has been an open one for quite some time, with no definitive answer. The theory is that ice from cometary impacts will have collected at the lunar poles which are permanently dark and cold. The Clementine mission's radar data suggested pockets of ice and Lunar Prospector detected hydrogen concentrations. However, the impact test with LP was negative and a radar survey of the crater walls from Earth with the Arecibo Observatory suggests that what Clementine saw was rocks, not ice. This is somewhat controversial and I suspect will not be resolved until we send a rover in. Besides, with a rover you can accurately map and sample a large number of sites without potentially blowing a lot of what you're looking for into space.

Crashing is easy, landing is hard (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22591598)

Two /. headlines on the same page:

"NASA Plans to Smash Spacecraft into the Moon"
"NASA to Demonstrate Moon Rover"

You know guys, smashing things is not the best way to demonstrate them.

But the question is: (1)

MrMaverick092588 (1240660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22591872)

Will it blend?

Moon Rover... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22592574)

that's an old Andy Williams song, isn't it?

Moon What? (0)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22592616)

Did anyone else read that as "NASA to Demonstrate Moon River"?

The hot stays hot (2, Interesting)

B Nesson (1153483) | more than 6 years ago | (#22594962)

I'll grant that it's very dark on the dark side of the moon, but without the convection an atmosphere provides, how cold will it actually be? The only heat loss will be through radiation and what (I imagine little) conduction there is between the rover and the ground. If a vacuum keeps my coffee in my thermos hot, how will it be any different on the moon?

IANARS, but I would think a bigger problem would be keeping the thing from overheating.

Finally we strike back at those terrrists (1)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22595418)

1/31/07 - Never Forget!



For the humor-impaired: Mooninites [wikipedia.org] . josh42042, props for the Mr. Show ref.

Why not just.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22595866)

Have a big empty storage tank and fill it with moon dirt when you get there. Should give enough weight to get some small holes drilled to use to anchor to the rock.

Moon River (1)

corgi (549186) | more than 6 years ago | (#22598550)

I made a slight reading error on the title and now I cannot get rid of the earworm.

..moon river, wider than a mile..

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