Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ready to roll (or better: walk)

On Tuesday June 10th, we received the great news that our team was invited to the ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge. Starting from now, we have about four and a half months time to develop a robotic device that will decent into a crater on the moon to look for hydrogen rich ore. Scientist believe that in the depths of lunar craters, in the absence of sunlight water might be preserved frozen solid which could be crucial, if one day we would like to establish a permanent base on the moon.

The conditions in such a crater make such an exploration very different from common planetary explorations. The crater edge is extremely steep (about 40 deg) and will be covered by rocks, boulders, and terraces. Landslides can occur every time the sand on the crater's slope is touched. Everything that makes the crater interesting for science (no sunlight, cold temperature, depth) makes it hard to explore.

To cope with this challenge, we proposed a robotic platform with four legs that can walk upright on normal surface, but switches to an arachnoid crawling gait when the terrain becomes rough.

In this Blog, we will keep you updated about the developing process, the steps we're taking, and the setbacks we suffer until we compete with our quadruped against seven other teams in late October.

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