Moon Roundup: Expertise All Around
Penn State Lunar Lion gets a NASA contract, Moon Express gets scientists, and ARCA tests for Mars.
By Nick Azer on September 11, 2013
This week, in the Google Lunar XPRIZE...
An Astrobotic moon cave robot exploring a mine. [Video link; image at 2:26.]
Serious expertise all around, as Penn State Lunar Lion signed a new contract with NASA, Astrobotic talked to NASA about their moon cave plans, Moon Express added some top scientists and ARCA tested Mars mission technology...
New NASA Ground
"[Space Act Agreements] are typically signed between NASA and private organizations such as SpaceX, so as a university, Penn State is breaking significant ground by collaborating with the space agency in this manner." -StateCollege.com
Penn State image of a student with the Lunar Lion 3D model.
The groundbreaking contract will provide Penn State with rocket thruster technology---specifically, a 'pencil thruster' that will help the team's craft 'hop' from place to place on the Moon (therefore fulfilling the 500-meters movement requirement of the Google Lunar XPRIZE)---while giving NASA research data and "new propulsion engine concepts" in return.
Astrobotic ’s CEO, Dr. Red Whitttaker, talked to NASA about why they are going to explore a Moon cave, and the history of the project:
NASA image of Dr. Paul Spudis.
Dr. Spudis will be their Chief Scientist, and Dr. Burns will serve as their Science Advisory Board Chair.
Spudis and Burns are both veterans of the Moon development community, with Spudis having served as the Chief Scientist for pioneering Google Lunar XPRIZE team Odyssey Moon (who eventually merged with team SpaceIL ).
They put communications equipment to the test for the European Space Agency Mars mission via use of a hot air balloon (as you can see above).
Eventually, ARCA will be testing parachutes the mission will use to descend to the surface of Mars.
All this week, we're at the European Planetary Science Congress in London! (#EPSC2013)
Our own GLXP gal Alex Hall blogged about the benefits the Google Lunar XPRIZE teams could provide to planetary scientists (and to the field in general).
And if you're at the event--swing by and say hi!
Moon Rover Contest
Challenges in 3D
Plan B also posted a cool video update:
Where they go hands-on with some 3D printing, assembling a rover wheel; discuss personal challenges with data; and talk more about their ongoing $2,000-value contest!
Battle Angel Hakuto
While also posting a bunch of other great updates to their Google+!
And last but definitely not least, NASA’s LADEE mission launched to the Moon!
Penn State Lunar Lion image of LADEE over their campus.
The mission is going to both study the lunar dust and atmosphere conditions, and test a new laser-based system of data communication. Both could be extremely valuable developments for the teams, and their efforts on the Moon!
- Moon Express was featured in a couple of articles---one on Forbes.com, and a pretty quirky one from Maxim.com!
- The Moon Mission Challenge---which has three Google Lunar XPRIZE teams (so far) planning to collaborate with kids on designing payloads---was featured in a Pittsburgh Business Times article!
- The cab of ARCA ’s supersonic plane, the Excelsior, will be on display for several weeks at Cluj-Napoca International Airport!
- Stellar brought together members from the U.S., Croatia, and Australia to meet in London!
- Synergy Moon announced a new Director of European Operations!
I'll be rounding these up every week, so keep an eye here for the latest developments from the moon race!
And 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!
[September 3rd-September 10th, 2013.]