Besides the "lunar porter", NASA engineers, as it turns out, are developing lunar miner and gruntovoza.
The problem is the same: low gravity, indicating a weak grip. Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot Excavator (RASSOR Excavator) designed in a somewhat unusual way: to solve the problem of friction, it uses something closer to circular saws (or front roller MTT), than the wheels. They are a single unit mounted on three pairs for each drum rear and front legs, which allows meeting the high barriers to raise the front roller on top of them, and then, during the descent, to avoid turning, keeping the crest rear roller.
|To move through the obstacles, the robot can change its shape in a wide range. (Here and below the photo NASA.)|
Function RASSOR Excavator should not by itself, and together with the autonomous robotic complex — equipment, processing lunar soil. To interact with it is able to transform into a robot Z-shaped, in which its upper platform, designed for the transport of soil, rises to 75 cm above the ground (ie, the moon). Thence produced regolith — to 18 kg at a time — will be able to pick up a processing unit. Despite the opinion of some scholars that the frozen lunar soil will be difficult to process and extract the water from it, at NASA believe that the ice in the polar craters exist in pure form, and only lightly sprinkled with regolith. It only needs to dig and transport — in fact, for this and created remote-controlled robot digger with ample opportunities for autonomous action.
Especially emphasized that cross a small robot weighing only poltsentnera close to the tank, through the drum rollers (developed cleats) on the bow and stern. With enhanced adhesion he can move five times faster Curiosity, a maximum speed of less than 4 inches per second.
Another strength of the new chassis is called reliability. By this design had to appeal because the trial in California desert conditions purely track chassis showed weakness, flea on Earth track links and suspension then covered with dust, block with time their further rotation. On earth all perfectly clean tanks with scrap and tank crew, and so fine dust, as on the Moon, we have some reason not to go. In addition, the dirt can be washed away only accessible by water, with which the satellite until the problem …
According to estimates, to fill one rocket fuel derived from hydrolysis of lunar water (hydrogen and oxygen), one RASSOR Excavator'u need to work five to 16 hours a day. Obviously, people can hardly look after him all the time and clean off the dust from the rollers. So after testing from caterpillars refused, well, wheel hard to consider as an option for the mini-excavator in low gravity.
Let's hope that after finishing the prototype RASSOR Excavator 2, scheduled for 2014, the device still happen to work for its intended purpose.
Prepared according to NASA.