Robots could soon be exploring lunar pits and cave networks on the moon. That's thanks to a $2 million NASA research initiative to support the work of roboticists at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.The pits have been observed from orbit but never explored. Unlike craters, which are left behind after impacts from asteroids and meteorites, the pits are like lunar sinkholes left behind after a section of the surface collapses. Scientists don't know much about them or how accessible they are, but they could provide shelter for human expeditions, or even serve as access points to networks of caves that could be colonized.Professor William Whittaker at CMU's Robotics Institute thinks robots are an ideal way to explore the pits."Is there a way in? Are there overhangs? Could a robot rappel in? Might there be a fissure, cavern or cave opening?" Whittaker poses. Read this Clearing up space junk: The system that's ready to decommission satellites before they even launch An Italian … [Read more...] about Robotic lunar spelunkers will head into sinkholes on the moon
Nasa exercise survival on the moon
The future of robots in space might not look much like R2-D2, Wall-E and Robby. They may look more like giant squishy worms. NASA Langley Research Center interns Chuck Sullivan and Jack Fitzpatrick are developing soft robot designs that could one day handle "dangerous, dirty or dull" tasks in space, on the moon and even on Mars. Soft robots arrive Scientists create liquid metal that stretches like Terminator MIT's robotic fish swims in the ocean, fits in at 'school' These robots don't have the sharp angles and hard surfaces of most sci-fi robots. The researchers are building robotic actuators with soft silicone exteriors that can bend, flex and expand. "When you actuate the soft robot, it changes how you use the material properties," Fitzpatrick said. "A piece of rubber going from flat to the shape of a finger, it changes the material into something else." A video shows this concept in action. The robots on display look like living, writhing creatures. They … [Read more...] about NASA eyes soft robots for dirty jobs on the moon and Mars
Israeli probe Beresheet didn't make it to the moon in one piece, but one of its most intriguing pieces of cargo might have. At this moment, it's possible there's a new crater on the lunar surface created by the spacecraft's crash landing, and in that impact zone is a metal disc containing a full copy of Wikipedia, the history of the world and magician David Copperfield's secrets, among many other things. Beresheet was carrying a 30-million-page "Lunar Library" created by the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF) and built to outlast humanity itself, perhaps for billions of years. "We have either installed the first library on the moon, or we have installed the first archaeological ruins of early human attempts to build a library on the moon," AMF co-founder Nova Spivack said in a statement. While the archive is the size and shape of a DVD, it's actually 25 stacked thin nickel films bonded together with an epoxy and then wrapped in mylar and Kapton tape meant to withstand extreme … [Read more...] about Beresheet crashed on the moon, but its ‘Lunar Library’ likely survived
The Man in the Moon is about to get one in the eye. Tonight sees the blast-off into space of the first privately funded mission to the Moon.Due to launch on a SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Israel-based SpaceIL will send a spacecraft to orbit the Moon and, sometime during April, attempt to put a lander called Beresheet (Hebrew for 'Genesis') on a section the lunar surface often visualised as the right eye of the Man in the Moon.Can I watch the launch live?Yes. It's due to launch late on Thursday, February 21 at 20:45 EST, 17:45 PST, which is early Friday morning at 01:45 GMT. Head over to SpaceIL's website or Twitter for a link or head straight to SpaceX's webcast page or its livestream on YouTube.Beresheet will be a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket due to launch later today from Cape Canaveral, Florida.What's so special about the mission?Not only will this be the first ever privately funded mission to the Moon, but it's also the first Israeli lunar … [Read more...] about Is Israel about to become the fourth nation to land on the moon?
There are so many streaming options available these days, and so many conflicting recommendations, that it’s hard to see through all the crap you could be watching. Each Friday, The Verge’s Cut the Crap column simplifies the choice by sorting through the overwhelming multitude of movies and TV shows on subscription services, and recommending a single perfect thing to watch this weekend. What to watch The Last Man on the Moon, Mark Craig’s documentary about Gene Cernan, the commander of the Apollo 17 mission — which as of right now marks the final time America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration sent astronauts to the lunar surface. Drawing on home movies and vast archives of NASA footage, Craig tells a fairly complete story of Cernan’s life in the space program, detailing his earlier missions (including the problem-plagued Gemini 9A) and the stress the astronaut lifestyle put on his family. The film is threaded with reflective interviews, … [Read more...] about Netflix’s Last Man on the Moon is a perfect bookend for First Man