Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon University, has unveiled a prototype lunar prospecting robot called Polaris. Specifically made to search out water, Polaris will be equipped with a drill that allows it to bore a little over 3-feet into the moon's surface, and will have the ability to operate in areas covered with large shadows. Polaris is the first of its kind.
Specifically, Polaris is designed to drill in search of lunar ice. Although other prospecting robots have been developed with the capability to drill through the moon's surface, none of them were ever made with the intent to be shipped into space. Polaris, on the other hand, is destined for the stars, and will allow scientist to explore the moon's surface with precision.
Polaris measures in at 8 feet long, 7 feet wide, and 5.5 feet tall, with a weight of approximately 330lbs and the ability to transport up to about 150lbs of equipment, such as drills. Unlike past robots, Polaris is designed to operate in areas where the sun is hitting the ground at low, harsh angles thanks to a series of carefully positioned solar panels, which will generate about 250 watts of electricity.
Perhaps most amazing of all is that Polaris's position will be accurate up to ten feet. Scientists will spend the next several months testing and fine-tuning the robot, and once it is ready, Polaris will be sent into space via a SpaceX Falcon 9. Basically, Polaris is the Neil Armstrong of lunar ice-prospecting robots.
[via Carnegie Mellon]