The lunar rovers are cool – but imagine how less hot they would be if they could also call back. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University will try to materialize the recall robots after being selected by NASA as a beneficiary of a new $ 2 million research grant aimed at developing a new technology to help robots explore the "pits" on the Moon.
Yes, pits, unlike craters, are essentially surface elements caused by meteorite impacts. These pits are more like sinkholes or caves on Earth, with surface access but also with large underground hollow caverns and spaces that can facilitate access to minerals and ice-water – and can even serve as ready-made shelter for future lunar explorers.
CMU Robotics Institute Professor Red Whittaker put forward a potential mission design that would aim to use smart, agile, and fast robots to study these pits up close, as they were spotted by lunar orbital observers, but these images do not really provide the kind of detail necessary to really discover if the sinkholes will be useful for the future missions of the Moon, or how.
Whittaker's draft plan, codenamed "Skylight", will use robots that have a degree of autonomy allowing them to self-select the surveys to be done. They will also have to act quickly: once the lunar night is set up, they'll (d) would be offline permanently, so that they would have an active use period of approximately one week, in accordance with the mission parameters.
NASA The ambitious mission to send astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024 and establish a base on the Moon by 2028 will benefit from the kind of screening provided by missions like "Skylight", but the timing will be tight – the projections Today, the 2023 horizon is the target for when such a mission could occur.