Lunar Roundup: Exploring the Depths
Team Astrobotic is heading into the 'Lake of Death' to explore a mysterious cave...
By Nick Azer on August 20, 2013
This week, in the Google Lunar XPRIZE…
As the rare seasonal blue moon pays us a visit, one of our teams plans a grand adventure into the 'Lake of Death'...
The Lake of Death
Astrobotic has revealed their 2015 destination: they’ll be braving the maw of a cave in Lacus Mortis...the Lake of Death!
NASA map of the 'Lake of Death'. (You can explore this in complete HD from your browser!)
The unveiling was made during a notable keynote speech by their CEO, Red Whittaker, at National Instruments Week 2013:
The main Google Lunar XPRIZE segment begins around 0:7:00.
In the speech, he covers a ton of awesome ground, including details of the mission: they’ll be flying over the very large cave opening---taking "helicopter"-style video from above as they go---while then landing to explore a slope into the cave (all on live TV, in HD):
“It’ll be like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time.” -Red Whittaker
He even gives the exact coordinates of the cave (44.962N, 25.61E---which you can look up using Google Earth's Moon mode). Here's a map of the location that I put together using imagery from the Moon Globe HD iPhone app:
There will be 'an opportunity for the world to operate the joysticks' of the rover, and they call the mission ‘authentic exploration’---discovering a brand new cave environment never before seen. They'll be launching on a SpaceX rocket in October of 2015. (They're also working on other moon-cave technology which they could use on later missions.)
That cave looks like a heck of a dramatic location, so this should be a ton of fun to watch!
The Moon is full of mind-blowing sights we haven't seen yet; Yosemite Valleys and Grand Canyons waiting to be revealed...and our teams will all be going up there with HD video cameras!
And speaking of great video, we've released our 2013 Team Update!
Featuring interviews with a bunch of the teams, we look at personal challenges the teams have been facing, and how they're conquering them on the way to making history.
Good Morning Japan
The transcript is in Japanese, but has some cool new pictures of their technology and testing, as well as news---they'll be focusing on a two-wheel design going forward, instead of their four-wheel!
The four-wheel rover.
Their two-wheeled rover in a specifically Moon-like sand environment.
A 3D-printed rover part.
The team also posted a blog post in Japanese, which (even through a rough Google Translate) is a pretty interesting interview!
Not Armed, Yet Dangerous
- Puli was featured in a Hungarian-language news video, which includes some pretty cool tech!
- Plan B posted an informative tech update on their progress, including data receiving hardware.
- Penn State Lunar Lion shared a photo of progress on their rocket test stand.
I’ll be rounding these up every week, so keep an eye here for the best developments from our very own moon race.
For the full skinny on everything that happens, follow the official feeds for team blogs, team social, and team videos. You can also sign up for the XPRIZE newsletter to get cool PRIZE news in your inbox!
And if you have any favorite stories from the week that didn’t make it in here---share them below!
[August 13th-August 19th, 2013.]