Polaris Prospecting Bot Polaris has three vertical solar panels to generate up to 250 watts of power, along with 3-D cameras and lasers to help it navigate.
A first-of-its-kind solar-powered lunar rover can drill 3 feet into the lunar surface, hoisting a vertical triple solar array to capture sunlight from super low on the moon’s horizon. Roboticists at a company called Astrobotic, a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon University, built a working prototype and plan to test it in the next few months.
Astrobotic and CMU hope to nab the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon. Polaris is designed to seek out water ice trapped in the cold craters and regolith at the moon’s poles. It has 3-D cameras and laser guidance systems for navigation, and it will communicate directly with Earth using an S-band antenna.
A lunar day lasts about two Earth weeks, and about 10 of those days would have enough sunlight for drilling at the moon’s poles. Polaris would drill up to 100 holes in those 10 days as it searches for water ice deposits. If it survives the lunar night, it could recharge again as soon as the sun comes up, and continue drilling for ice as long as its drill bit lasts.
Body: 5 1/2 feet tall, 7 feet wide and almost 8 feet long
Wheels: 2-foot diameter composite material
Speed: One foot per second
Weight: 330 lbs.
Payload: 150 pounds for drill and science instruments.
Polaris would launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and land near the moon’s north pole, according to CMU. You can follow its progress here.
Previous Article: Should Satellite Map Data Be Uncensored For All To Enjoy?Next Article: Dear Mystery Algorithm That Hogged Global Financial Trading Last Week: What Do You Want?
To comment, please Login.
140 years of Popular Science at your fingertips.
Make your ideas part of the revolutionTres Cantos Open Lab Foundation: Proposals for Neglected Diseases ResearchAward: VariesLearn morePowered by Innocentive
Popular Science+ For iPad
Each issue has been completely reimagined for your iPad. See our amazing new vision for magazines that goes far beyond the printed page
Download Our App
Stay up to date on the latest news of the future of science and technology from your iPhone or Android phone with full articles, images and offline viewing
Follow Us On Twitter
Featuring every article from the magazine and website, plus links from around the Web. Also see our PopSci DIY feed
October 2012: Destroyer
The Zumwalt is the most technologically-advanced warship ever built. Also in this issue: Brilliant 10, our roundup of young researchers whose work could change the world.
Plus: Quests! Like the quest for human-powered flight, or the quest for the egg-free egg, or the quest to never have to make your bed ever again.