Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Robotic Lunar 'MoonDigger' Bulldozers Planned By NASA

Lunar bulldozer robots may perform site preparation for moonbases. A NASA-sponsored study, prepared by Astrobotic Technology Inc. with technical assistance from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, was presented last Friday at a NASA Lunar Surface Systems conference.


(Lunar bulldozer)

“NASA faces a challenge in planning the layout for its outpost, which is expected to begin operations in 2020,” said Dr. William “Red” Whittaker, chairman and chief technical officer of Astrobotic and a Carnegie Mellon professor of robotics. “For efficient cargo transfer, the landing site needs to be close to the outpost’s crew quarters and laboratories. Each rocket landing and takeoff, however, will accelerate lunar grit outwards from the pad. With no atmosphere to slow it down, the dry soil would sandblast the outpost.”

Two potential solutions to the problem were examined: 1) creation of a berm around the landing site and 2) creation of a hard-surface landing pad using lunar materials.

The research team determined that 2 MoonDiggers weighing about 330 pounds apiece could work together in building a suitable berm in just six months. A berm 8.5 feet tall in a 160-foot semi-circle would require moving 2.6 million pounds of lunar 'dirt.'

Utilizing the second of the two alternatives mentioned above requires that the small robots comb the lunar surface for rocks, gathering them for a durable grit-free landing space.

The robotic lunar bulldozers would not be operated by astronauts; instead, the robotic 'dozers would be directed by a combination of direct teleoperation and supervised autonomy by workers on Earth.

This idea is old hat for Pournelle and Niven fans. In their 1981 novel Oath of Fealty, they describe a telepresence bulldozer for just this kind of work.

"Meet Rachel Lief," Lunan said. "Ms. Lief is a bulldozer driver." Lunan paused for effect. "As you see, Ms. Lief doesn't look like your typical tractor driver..."

"But then," Lunan said, "not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon." The cameras followed the trim woman into another room, where there was a replica of a large tractor. It was surrounded by TV screens. One screen showed an astronaut sitting in the driver's seat, staring impatiently into the screen. A bleak, nearly colorless pit showed over his left shoulder.

"About time you got here," the astronaut said.

"We were busy," Rachel sat down in the driver's seat and took hold of the controls. "I relieve you..."

The bulldozer moved through the lunar strip mine...
(Read more about Pournelle and Niven's telepresence bulldozer)

See also this video of the bulldozer attachment to the Lunar Chariot; this is a multi-purpose vehicle intended for use by astronauts on the Moon. Read the previous article for more information about it - NASA's Chariot Is Not Your Father's Moon Rover.

From Carnegie Mellon University; see also this excellent Astrobiotic MoonDigger report (pdf) and this earlier report on Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization (pdf).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/3/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 8 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

'Parastronaut' First Astronaut With Disability From ESA (Updated!)
'He had left Earth to get away from its gravitational field...' - Robert Heinlein, 1942.

Mars Space Weather Alert (MSWA) System
'On the three-dimensional map at weather headquarters... the storm was colored orange.' - AE van Vogt, 1943.

Hovering Over The Lunar Surface
'It looked like a sure thing.' - Raymond F. Jones, 1973.

The Far Side Of The Moon, By NASA (2015) And By PAUL (1932)
"We had leisure to make a thorough observation of the hidden side of earth's satellite."

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Seoul Self-Driving 42dot Bus Unveiled
'Buses without drivers moved close to the curb and stopped at intervals.'

T. Gondii And The Leaders Of The Pack
'... infected males were more than 46 times more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected males.'

'Parastronaut' First Astronaut With Disability From ESA (Updated!)
'He had left Earth to get away from its gravitational field...'

MIT Self-Assembling Reprogrammable Materials
'Faster the cubes moved; faster the circle revolved; the pyramids raised themselves, stood bolt upright on their square bases...'

Mem, The All Your Memories, Super Note-Taking App
'Life experience is linearly additive, but the correlation of memory impressions is an unlimited expansion.'

Porcine Fat Cells For 3D-Printed Whole Pork Products
'I grabbed two Syntho-Steaks out of the freezer...'

LANIUS Loitering Drone Munition Scouts And Maps
'... micro-missiles proceeding at walking pace.'

Copilot Software AI Training Sued By Involuntary Contributors
'...we've promised him a generous pension from the royalties.'

Thin Film Dome Protects Cities From Nuclear Blasts
'What fabric can take that kind of a load? Synthetic spider silk.'

Mars Space Weather Alert (MSWA) System
'On the three-dimensional map at weather headquarters... the storm was colored orange.'

Thermite's Robot Firefighter
Possibly worthy of Transformers!

Fabrican Dress Sprayed Directly Onto Model On Coperni Runway
'...that might appeal to women, because by discharging from a few or a few dozen bottles a liquid that immediately set into fabrics... they could have a new creation every time.'

Israel Deploys Sharp Shooter AI-powered Robot Guns
'They lock onto the target... and do the actual shooting once the target is identified.'

Drone Loiter Munitions Now Available
'...a series of airborne loiter-drones posted on indefinite guard above.'

Amazon Blimp Parent Drone Concept
'So the parent drone carries a spotter that it launches...'

Cyborg Eye Flashlight Lights Up The Room
'Foyle pressed a tooth with his tongue and the peripheral cells of his retina were excited into emitting a soft light.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.