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Moon Space

Space Penguin Could Hop Around The Moon 185

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the bouncing-science dept.
notdanielp writes "A robotic Lunar Penguin explorer could be hopping around on the moon by 2009, said Raytheon on Tuesday, as it unveiled the concept lander at an aerospace conference. The unmanned lunar device, in development for two years, is 3 feet tall and weighs approximately 230 pounds. It "hops" by reigniting small propulsion engines ... President Bush last year refocused the space program on sending people to the moon, Mars and beyond. Raytheon said the Penguin could be a robotic precursor to future manned space missions and that it was being proposed to NASA."
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Space Penguin Could Hop Around The Moon

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  • by BlackCobra43 (596714) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @10:58AM (#13446241)
    .......but does it run Linux?
    • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @10:59AM (#13446253) Homepage Journal
      Finally! After all these years, and now it's here: a story for which "Yeah, but does [ridiculously incongruous device] run Linux?" is actually on-topic!
    • does it Hop Linux???
    • We have finally found a use for the term "Lunix" other than trolling!
    • NASA has been using a version of realtime UNIX called VxWorks from Wind River in many of its space probes and robots. It has been evolving for decades along with various NASA probes. Its not perfect, having brought down the rovers for a couple weeks with a thread blocking problem. [cmu.edu] But it has been field tested for a long time.
      • vxWorks is based on the UNIX pre-emptive tasking model but is has evolved way past that. The Real-Time UNIX stamdard is actually called POSIX. VxWorks is a great product, I wrote code for embedded systems using that as the OS for many years. Of course it has to be "customized" to the processor and peripherals via a Board Support Package, so it's not "plug and pray". Lately they (Wind River) have not been doing to well financially, I think Windows CE is hurting thier market.
    • ...if you had a Beowulf cluster of these and they all hopped at the same time, could they alter the orbit of the moon?
    • The title is "Space penguin could hop around moon." It could hop once someone designs a driver for its flippers, and assuming penguin_hop-0.2.7 is properly compiled (be sure to check for dependency errors). Oh yeah, and someone still needs to build support for the feet, so hopping will still be erratic. Any questions? RTFM. But the documents are only half done, so you're going to have to guess the rest by scanning the code for comments, but that's what open source is about, right?

      If the penguins were ru

  • Whoa (Score:1, Funny)

    by cached (801963)
    The lander sits on four legs, much like a small version of the original landers that brought astronauts to the moon. The squat, compact unit has a few tiny jump boosters protruding below and on its sides and looks nothing like an actual penguin. This looks just like my my linux box sitting on my table.
  • Great (Score:4, Funny)

    by CalcMan (179244) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @10:59AM (#13446257) Homepage Journal
    A penguin with gas.
  • but am i the only one that is wondering why a penguin??? its cute, but wouldnt a 'rover' type thing do just fine? id really like for NASA to be more concerned with experiments and whatnot rather than what animal to choose for its fun space trip to the moon.
  • I just hope that the engineers were forward-thinking enough to have trademarked the penguin.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:03AM (#13446286)
    From TFA: The Lunar Penguin, originally intended to land on the south pole of the moon to search for ice, is based on tactical weapons technologies, which should make it much more affordable, Raytheon said

    Just curious what booster-powered hopping weapons system Raytheon has been working on lately, and if they have lasers strapped to their heads or what.
  • by -Grover (105474) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:03AM (#13446288)
    Personally I like

    Lunar Terrestrial Unmanned Excursion.

    Lunar TUX :)
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skelly33 (891182) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:03AM (#13446290)
    A robotic pre-cursor to manned moon landings? Why?

    We were able to do manned moon landings for almost 40 years ago; has our know-how diminished, or are we just less determined than we used to be?
      • Re:Answer... (Score:2, Informative)

        Any further questions?

        Yes, did you check your link with Snopes.com? A simple search yields:

        http://www.snopes.com/language/document/1895exam.h tm [snopes.com]

    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by justin12345 (846440)
      When I take off my tin foil hat, I hear voices that tell me that the landings were faked. ;-)

      Seriously though, I think the somewhat hair-brained presidential directive involves building a base there. Stands to reason a "jump jet" vehicle would be useful in that.

      And finally, to get on my soap box: A lunar outpost and manned martian exploration really isn't that bad of an idea. Sure, they are arbitrary goals that could be done via robotics, but so was landing on the Moon in the first place. Its not l
      • I agree with you about a lunar base. I'm also interested in exploring the moon as a possible launch base for deep space vehicles. I can imagine that the obstacles neededto overcome deep space launches from the moon are easily offset by the reduced structural stress incurred from having to launch from earth's gravity.

        We can build modular components on earth, assemble and launch from the moon. Hypothetically, we can even field extraterrestrial materials retrieved from foreign bodies on the moon before cleari
    • by e2d2 (115622)
      Robots are cheap and when they die no one sheds a tear except the contractor that has to fight for his job once again.

      NASA now realizes that they can send a lot more robots into space than humans. It's more cost effective and it's safer. Of course humans will probably be needed down the road for exploration but it's not cheap.
  • Would someone please grab a generic image of Tux, and outfit him with a space suit and pogo stick, please? Preferably against a lunar backdrop? I'm away from my Photoshop-equipped system at the moment or I'd give it a shot.

    Keep the peace(es).

  • Affordable? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:06AM (#13446314) Journal
    "The Lunar Penguin, originally intended to land on the south pole of the moon to search for ice, is based on tactical weapons technologies, which should make it much more affordable, Raytheon said, without disclosing a price.

    See how much great stuff comes out of military research? This is why all you tech-happy people should support increased military funding, instead of something so silly as direct funding of research.

    Seriously, this is much more affordable only because we've already paid for the research. That's like a waiter saying, "Your meal will be 10% off, because you gave us the chicken we made it out of."

    It's great that we can apply some of our military tech to space / lunar exploration. But don't say it's more affordable just because we already paid for it.
    • Re:Affordable? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by notdanielp (244035)

      Seriously, this is much more affordable only because we've already paid for the research.
      Not entirely. It can also be more affordable if the manufacturing processes for these tactical weapons technologies are already active. Which is cheaper, a production run off of an existing assembly line or building a new factory and then doing a single run?
      • I stand corrected.

        But, there's also some consideration as to whether designing around existing components can be more expensive. Sometimes a top-down design, even with limited production runs, can be cheaper to manufacture. Hopefully not in this case, if it was designed well.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:08AM (#13446335)
    Despite the NASAs great results with their three successful Mars rovers, the two Russian Lunokhods [wikipedia.org] still hold the distance records covering about 30 miles together, or an order of magnitude more than the Martian rovers. The Moon is near enough to allow interactive control of surface robots, unlike Mars.

    Of course many of us would like to see dozens of rovers crawling all over the planets and moons. The cost of the International Space Station would have funded over 200 rovers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:09AM (#13446356)
    It never fails that Hollywood will always ruin good movies with really crappy sequels. I can just see it now:
    "March of the Penguins 2: Electric Boogaloo: In Space"
  • Some people call me the space Penguin, yeah Some call me the gangster of love Some people call me maurice Cause I speak of the pompitous of love

    -not steve miller
  • by milktoastman (572643) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:12AM (#13446375)
    I bet no one will get this reference...it's obscure and irrelevant...but I'm curious just to see if anyone is as nerdy as me.

    "Make it jump with its flippers extended, like a friendly gesture."

    "I don't know, the sight of that robot penguin jumping toward me with flippers extended would scare the piss out of me."

    "Good point"

  • Marge: "Space Penguin?"
  • by Doc Ruby (173196)
    Yeah, Bush mouthed some words (dyslexized, no doubt) about sending Americans to Mars. He certainly got some naive geek votes for that soundbyte. So why would he actually spend any time or money on an actual Mars program, now that he's already reaped all the political capital he can use? Why should he do any more to back up his promise than Bush Sr did when he made the same Mars promise 15 years earlier? Why should Bush expect to be accountable for that promise, when 40% of the country is letting him off his
  • by lost in place (248578) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:19AM (#13446453)
    You have to wonder how many other animals they considered before deciding that a 250 lb rocket propelled vehicle was anything like a penguin. So...

    TOP 5 NAMES SUGGESTED BY RAYTHEON ENGINEERS BEFORE THEIR PR DEPT TOOK OVER:
    1. Giant Flying Cockroach
    2. Big Flying Rat, Mark I
    3. Lunar Kangaroo
    4. Rocket-propelled Barrel-o-Electronics
    5. Flatulent R2D2
  • Damn these creatures can march anywhere!
  • jumping around (Score:2, Interesting)

    by javiercr (902891)
    The risks involved in all those small take offs and landings are probably too high.

    Also, we are not looking for life in the moon, we already have lunar rocks, what the point of jumping around the moon?

    We should a) get a cheap and reliable way to get to space b) build a base on the moon and explore other planets.
  • the Lunar Penguin, originally intended to land on the south pole of the moon to search for ice, is based on tactical weapons technologies, which should make it much more affordable, Raytheon said

    Coming with face melting lasers to a theater near you.
  • I can see the conspiracy forming already... send *penguin* to another planet, but have it secretly running Windows. Wait til it crashes and BSOD's, then tell the world it was running Linux. This is the next logical step for the Get The Facts campaign. First you smear Linux worldwide, the globally. Those bastards...

    PDA & Smartphone Optimized Sites [mobileoptimized.com]
    Replacing my laptop with a Treo [mobileoptimized.com]
  • The guys and gals down at Lunar Linux [lunar-linux.org] are grinning maliciously at the success of their propaganda scheme to encourage poor schmucks like me to post links to their project on /. in a desparate attempt to get +5 mod points.
  • by DarkHand (608301) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:30AM (#13446549)
    I can see how it went down:

    Scientist: "Mr. President, we have a number of new designs for our next Mars probe. Utilizing various state of the art metallurgy processes and the most advanced..."

    Bush: "Can the scientologist mumbo jumbo, Doc."

    Scientist: "::sigh:: This one looks like a penguin."

    Bush: "Ooh, a penguin? Heh heh, I like penguins. Approved!"
  • Let's see, short and squat with protruding spindly legs and it moved be periodically expelling gas from "jump jets".

    Sound like they should call it the "Barking Spider" lander.

  • Hopefully they have a better plan than a ruber band sling shot. I also hope they don't try to get the penguin in a loop around the moon trying to maximize the distance before he gets back to the shuttle. http://www.bigideafun.com/penguins/arcade/spaced_p enguin/default.htm [bigideafun.com]
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:54AM (#13446757) Homepage Journal
    In 1991 I went to work at E'Prime Aerospace [eprimeaerospace.com] as VP of Public Affairs getting the first Ka-band satellite license issued [lta.com]. While doing that work it occurred to me that the MX-missile warhead bus we were using as the basis of the Norstar satellite could, with minor modifications, be turned into a lunar lander that could hop around the lunar surface.

    We did a study of the tankage sizing changes required and a few other features and actually got some quotes back from some of the contractors. It would have been a relatively cheap mission, about the same as a geostationary satellite launch.

    I don't recall whether Raytheon was one of the contractors we contacted for pricing.

  • by JLavezzo (161308) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @11:59AM (#13446806) Homepage
    Scientists expect to deploy a Space Batman [moviepoopshoot.com] to thwart any crimes attempted by the Space Penguin [angelfire.com]. The Governor of California [rhein-zeitung.de] may come to the defense of the Penguin.
  • ...Microsoft CEO Bill Gates today stated that it would be far cheaper to fit giant Windows XP-powered rocket motors to the moon and fly it to Redmond, whereupon Steve Ballmer could hop around it in his shirt sleeves shouting "Developers, developers!"
  • I first read the title as "Space Penguin Could Hop Around the Moon".

    No. Wait..
  • No pictures? (Score:3, Informative)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:51PM (#13450138) Homepage
    How can you post a story about a lunar penguin with no pictures? [aol.com]

    I know penguins, and that, sir, is no penguin.
  • by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:57PM (#13450168) Homepage
    See the hopping moon penguin in a field test here [noirchickenstudios.com]!
  • Here's a funky idea (funky penguins!):

    I don't know how much these things can carry, but let's say they can carry 100 pounds/50 kilograms. Why not build a couple dozen or a hundred or so, pack each one with 50 kilos of consumables (ice, dried food, medical supplies, etc) and stagger-launch them so that they land in roughly the same area. Also equip them with the means of "homing" on each others' signals, and let them "swarm" together, maybe set them to swarm to the first one to land safely. It might take
  • I've seen promotional (or were they instruction manual introductions?) videos with jumping anti-tank mines, which were launched by a medium range rocket system (MARS?). They were a little smaller than R2D2, would fall down from the rocket with small parachutes, and then fold out some metal strips as feet hinged at the bottom. Think of a flower, just upside down. They then would sit there and wait for tanks (or rather, the magnetic field associated with a tank) to come through the area, and would jump on the

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