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Moon Space NASA

NASA's New Lunar Rover in Action 96

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist has video of Nasa's new Chariot lunar rover in action on simulated moon surface in Houston. As the associated story explains, the two-ton "truck" has a top speed of 20km/hour and is currently fitted with a plough, with additional back hoe and drill attachments to come. Sure it's not glamorous — more of a lunar tractor — but sure looks handy for establishing that permanent moon base NASA wants."
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NASA's New Lunar Rover in Action

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  • by chrisjwray ( 717883 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:39AM (#22868576)
    I wonder if this is the same simulated surface where the original landings were filmed.
    • by oni ( 41625 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:50AM (#22868682) Homepage
      no, the original landings were filmed in Area 51, but that whole region is now a radioactive wasteland, so now they've actually had to move the *testing* to the moon, so that the public doesn't know Earth has been polluted.

      It's easy to see through NASA's lies. Why are there no clouds in the sky in this footage? Answer: it's because they're on the moon, and they added in the blue sky using Adobe Aftereffects, but they couldn't make realistic clouds so they left those out.

      Why didn't the rover kick up little clouds of dust? Answer: because there's no air on the moon.
    • No, I'm pretty sure the original soundstage was destroyed by the mobsters that hired Lee Harvey in a black helicopter training exercise. The mobsters were inexperienced with operating the super stealthy aircraft, and when they tried to lift the loch ness monster with a couple, they dropped the monster, destroying the original forever.

      Original Fake Moon Landing Sound Stage []... it's the truth.
    • Don't be a fool, everyone knows that the special cameras created homeopathic van Allen radiation in the regiolith which destroyed the original set through a Golden Ratio masonic pyramid conspiracy.
  • by UberHoser ( 868520 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:41AM (#22868596)
    Also all the other things a "truck" in Houston should have.

    *Gun Rack
    *Redneck Bumper stickers
    *Shiney nude girl mudflaps
    *A Wooden Back bumper (Usually 4x8)
    *Empty Bud cans on the floor
    *A Nascar Sticker on the Back window. #3 or #8) or both !
    *Marlboro boxes everywhere.
  • Lunar base (Score:5, Funny)

    by PodissRT ( 914949 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:46AM (#22868626)

    As the associated story explains, the two-ton "truck" has a top speed of 20km/hour and is currently fitted with a plough, with additional back hoe and drill attachments to come. Sure it's not glamorous -- more of a lunar tractor -- but sure looks handy for establishing that permanent moon base NASA wants.
    It looks handy for establishing the moon base, and knocking out its fiber optics.
  • It seems like new lunar tractor can drive forward in any orientation. That is pretty cool.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:00AM (#22868784) Homepage

    and is currently fitted with a plough...

    Vital for those sudden lunar snow storms.

  • I guess it's cheaper for NASA to fund simulated moon action than real Mars action [].
  • by bwak ( 1259494 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:03AM (#22868800)
    Maybe this has been discussed before on another thread, but how the heck do you protect your buildings that are completely exposed to the elements of space? Without an atmosphere to burn up or dismantle most of what comes at it, is there really a plausible way to shield your structures from essentially anything at any speed? Hopefully some of the space guys can shed some light on this for me.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How about living underground?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Certainly underground buildings would be the way to go for all the anticipated expansions of lunar and mars colonies. The lighter atmosphere of Mars (and lack of any on the moon) would allow hits by meteors that would never make it through Earth's denser atmosphere.

      Additionally, the moon and Mars lack a strong magnetic shield like that of the Earth, allowing more solar and cosmic radiation to hit surface dwellers.

      But before we start planning on building moon/mars dozers to build any underground bunkers or
    • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:43AM (#22869166)

      Probability on an impact is fairly low. Still would be a consideration which probably results in building (initial) permanent settlements underground. Radiation is a bigger concern, since lethal doses are possible every time energy from an x class solar flare hits the lunar surface.

      Build your shelter then cover it with lunar regolith.

      Burrow tunnel and build shelter underground

      Dig into side of crater and build shelter into crater wall.

      your choice. Simply Choose one

      There's always risk. Every 100 years or so a rock big enough to do considerable damage gets through Earth's atmosphere. Every few years a storm big enough to do considerable damage hits a major population center. Hell, we live on a molten ball of rock with a crust that's only 30 or so miles thick. Tomorrow the east coast of the U.S. (where I live) could be wiped out by a tsunami.

    • This risk is mitigated by: [x] Hoping it won't happen.
    • I'm thinking rocks. They have a lot of those.
  • Back ho? (Score:5, Funny)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:11AM (#22868862) Journal
    They got ho's on the moon? Sign me up!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:15AM (#22868886)
    Why do we not try and 'pave' parts of the moon we want to land on? Ok, granted it'd probably be pretty difficult (rocket science and all that...) to land in the exact same 30m x 30m grid every time, but the point remains. If we have so many concerns about moon dust and what damage it can cause, why don't we solidify a large section of the top layer?

    I refuse to believe I'm the first person to suggest this, but I have yet to see it mentioned anywhere else.

    My suggestion, since that's what your thinking at this point, is some type of ceramic.
  • I certainly hope farming isn't an integral part of the moonbase plan.
    • by carambola5 ( 456983 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:51AM (#22869252) Homepage
      Your comment was obviously tongue-in-cheek, but there are reasons for a plow. First is for infrastructure: it's useful to push off all of the fluffy regolith (moon dirt) to get to the compacted stuff when you want to drive moon buggies and such things.

      More interesting (for me, at least) is for excavation. The plow is used to strip the top layer of loose regolith so that a mining attachment can dig up the compacted stuff. There is evidence of water ice near the poles as well as He-3, so an effective cutterhead and muck retriever could collect resource-laden material. I just so happen to be lead mechanical engineer on such a Chariot-attachable mining module. :)
    • With a 65,000 kg payload capacity on the Ares V [] it is likely that they won't depend on farming to sustain a lunar base. Especially since the Earth-Moon voyage takes less than a week. However, I speculate that the 6 month Earth-Mars trip would be a compelling reason to push for farming capability so that future visitors don't have to rely so heavily on Earth supplied resources to survive.

      As far as having a plough... well that is just necessary for clearing the lunar landscape so that any long-term platfo

  • Who should live on the moon? There could be build a high security prison for dangerous people, or a permanent home for previous world leaders/ unwanted politicians.
    • And just hand them the opportunity to live on another world? Screw that. Give the opportunity to some of the most gifted minds of science and engineering.

      Like me. :)
    • The Fletcher Memorial Home for Incurable Tyrants and Kings
  • It would be interesting to automate this and then send a couple of these to a moon to start work ahead of time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TomRC ( 231027 )
      Well DUH!

      We could have been doing THAT for the past 30 years or so using tele-operated robots. By now we'd have a substantial robotic base, likely mining lunar water to make rocket fuel and lunar soil to make fuel tanks. But all that would've done is cut the cost of space missions about in half, while greatly advancing the state of robotics.

      Who'd want any of that?!
  • by TomRC ( 231027 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:22AM (#22869612)
    I think it really needs a roll-bar or cage to protect the lunar worker. Our terrestrial intuitions about what looks stable may not be accurate for the mooon.
    • I think it really needs a roll-bar...

      Sweet, then you'd have something to mount the KC lights and flag on. (So glad it wasn't being tested up north where I'm sure there's not as much to make fun of)

      Seriously though, when I saw the video I was wondering what goes into determining dynamic stability of a vehicle when you're tooling around in less gravity. I thought it seemed like the outer set of wheels could be raised/lowered, but maybe that was just an illusion caused by it running across uneven ground.


    • Except that here on earth, we don't design such things by intuition. We design them by calculating the centre of gravity, tipping forces, etc... etc... The equations don't change by changing the name of the planetary body the machine operates on.
  • This reminds me of the Robo-Dozers on the old Outpost [] computer games. Good games, they taught me a lot about resource managment for Real Time Strategy.
  • two-ton truck? So it's something like this []?
  • I'm all for space exploration, but a base on the moon just sounds like ISS Deluxe to me, a huge money sink for NASA's strained budget?

    What is the enormous science potential for an as far reaching project like that? At least on Mars, we haven't set foot there before and it's still a curious planet with lots of unknowns, but our Moon has already been studied -- from the surface itself as well as from above.

    Is it mostly just a stepping stone to Mars? Do we really have to have a Moon station there first? Becaus
    • by oni ( 41625 )
      What is the enormous science potential for an as far reaching project like that?

      Well three things:
      1. As you probably know, bone loss is quite rapid in zero-G. Astronauts who stay in orbit for six months or more have to be pulled out of the capsule and put into a wheelchair when the return to Earth. So far, even after all the time spent on ISS, nobody has come up with an exercise regimen that really helps. There's real concern that we may not be able to go to Mars *ever* (for sufficiently small values of
  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:58AM (#22870124) Homepage Journal
    If anyone is interested, here's some pics [] my coworkers and I took. Plus a few more pages of crud.
  • Those who don't remember the sixties are doomed to repeat them.

    Youve got to be all mine, all mine
    Ooh, foxy lady
  • by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes@xmsn[ ]nl ['et.' in gap]> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @12:12PM (#22870332)
    That's no moon!
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @12:19PM (#22870422) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:
    Independent steering on each of its six pairs of wheels... give the vehicle the ability to raise or lower each individual wheel to keep its chassis level on uneven ground.

    I've remotely driven that *exact* sort of vehicle! Well, in simulation [], at least. I just can't believe it took from 1982 to now to go from simulator to prototype.

    And they still didn't get the forward and vertical blasters! Hokey plows and an ancient drill bit are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
  • ...proving we are the rednecks of space! I wonder if the moonbase is going to look like a mobile home...
  • Granted, weight is not a good unit here, as the moon's gravity is around 1/4 that of the earth's (I think). But the machine looks pretty light-weight to me, especially in terms of construction equipment. How practical would this thing be? I can only see it being used as something to move a person from point A to point B. Imagining how it would use a plow is stretching my imagination.
    • by eh2o ( 471262 )
      The dirt it has to push around is also 1/4 weight.
      • But the bonds that shape the form of the surface are just as strong. The loose stuff will be able to move just as easily, but the stuff barely sticking out of the ground won't. Put a flag pole in the ground, exposing only the top foot (the rest is buried underground.) The flag pole will weigh 1/4 of its amount on Earth, but you're still going to need the same amount of force to break off that foot that's sticking above ground.
        • There basically are no bonds, there is no water on the moon to provide a medium for chemical reactions to take place, no weather to mix up the elements, no glaciers to compact the ground. It's loose shards of moon kicked up by meteorite impacts all the way down to the bedrock.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @01:44PM (#22871450)
    They [] were nuclear powered to survive the 14-day night, drove tens of kilometers. At that time computers werent too powerful, so these were intereactively controlled (2 sec delay) with live telemetry.
  • I wonder if NASA does a good enough job, if Bigelow will be allowed to purchase a few of these? They already bought the rights from NASA for their space station. The idea is to put it on the moon surface. I could see them looking over this truck and buying at least the rights, if not a number of these. Then they could run it remotely and prepare a landing site for their station. Keep in mind that they are looking to bury it in dirt (either in a hole, or by pushing dirt on top of it).

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun