NASA has announced the third annual Lunabotics Mining Competition to be held from May 21 to 26, 2012 at NASA’s Kennedy Florida Center. Competitors will be required to conceptualize and develop an independent or a remote-controlled robot that can be used for future lunar exploration.
During the course of the competition, the robots also known as lunabots will compete with each other and the winner will be the one who will excavate and gather the highest amount of simulated lunar dirt in a time span of 10 minutes. The minimum amount of dirt to be accumulated is 10 kg. The last date for submission of applications, which includes an educational outreach project and a systems engineering paper is November 30, 2011. Each university can have one representing team and the number of teams for each country is 10.
The objective of the competition is to instill interest in students in science, technology, engineering and math streams also known as STEM, areas of study that are very essential for accomplishing NASA’s missions. The competition aims at tackling critical challenges such as the Lunabot’s size and weight restrictions, the BP-1’s abrasive features and the capability to monitor the Lunabot remotely from a mission control center This year, the scoring will not be restricted to just how much material has been excavated in the allotted time but the teams will need to consider design and operation factors that include projection and dust tolerance, vehicle mass, communications, autonomy levels and the power/energy needed.