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First Regolith Digging Contest to take place

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Fri May 11, 2007 11:03 am
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First Regolith Digging Contest to take place 
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Post First Regolith Digging Contest to take place   Posted on: Fri May 11, 2007 11:03 am
According to the article "Regolith Rumble: Stage Set for Moon Dirt Digging Contest" ( www.space.com/businesstechnology/070511 ... lenge.html ) the first contest for the Centennial Challenges Prize for a robot digging for lunar Regolith is going to take place tomorrow.

Have a look at the image of one of the robots for example.

What do you think about it?

And NASA have said that
Quote:
NASA has more than a passing interest in developing machines to push Moon dirt around, Ken Davidian, Centennial Challenges program manager, told SPACE.com.
and
Quote:
Davidian added that NASA experts from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Glenn Research Center in Ohio, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California will be on hand for Saturday's competition.

"They'll be looking at the technologies that are going to be competing," he said.


...



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Post    Posted on: Sun May 13, 2007 2:13 pm
No one won the regolith challenge this year so the prize next year goes up to $75k.

3 of the 4 competing diggers broke down while the 4th was only able to collect 65kg (143lb), the contests calls for a minimum of 330lb. A bit disappointing really, I didn't think that this was one of the harder challenges (just shows you what I know then :) ).

Perhaps the bigger prize will encourage a better performance next year.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 021D40.DTL

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Post    Posted on: Mon May 14, 2007 11:04 am
Hello, Andy Hill,

Thinking a bit more about the 4th digger seems to have problem of performance merely but not a fundamental problem - it's working but too slow. It might be that that is no major problem.

In so far the situation tends to remind me to the Lunar Lander Challenge.

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Post    Posted on: Mon May 14, 2007 10:01 pm
I think that only having 30 watts to power everything is probably the biggest problem. Not having much practice using the regolith substitute didn't help much either.

Here's another article with a bit more detail.

http://space.newscientist.com/article/d ... ntest.html

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 15, 2007 8:03 pm
I think these challenges are so extreme that NASA thinks no-one can do it. Certainly, not themselves. 30 Watts, excuse me for laughing ;)

Anyhow, i think the one that works is fine if we would send it to the moon right now. Ah well, i think such diggers/scoopers are a little bit easier to develope then a lander/rocket. So, i suspect next time they should get the prize.

Anybody any idea if someone snatches the prize if NASA would obtain the rights to the design automatically? Or could they sell it to another company if they wanted?


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 15, 2007 9:55 pm
I dont think that any prize winner automatically has to hand over the design rights to their equipment to NASA. I remember listening to a space show a couple of weeks back where there was a conversation on just this topic and it was made clear that NASA gained no rights over any technology developed.

As long as the winner obeys rules like ITAR and anything else the US government decides to impose I would guess that can do whatever they like.

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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 8:37 am
I am quite sure that NASA can't get or take the rights by a contest like a Centennial Challenge or the like because design etc. are intellectual property of the inventor/innovator. Nor NASA can sell it unless they buy the right(s) from the developer.

The developer easyly might keep details secret and/or decompose it into its elements and details.



At this moment another thought comes to my mind because of your post, Stefan: It might be interesting and really favourable if competitors of the Lunar Lander Challenge and the Digging Challenge would coopertae later to get the digger integrated into the lander to be able to carry the digger down to the lunar surface via the lander - the digger nonetheless will be a payload of a lander and/or may have to be transported across the lunar surface from time to time. So it would be very advantageous if the landers and the diggers would be compatible to each other - this points towards gaetanomarano's thread about standardization in the Spaceflight Cafe section also.

Perhaps this is another good idea for a Centennial Challenges contest?



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 9:45 am
Andy Hill wrote:
I think that only having 30 watts to power everything is probably the biggest problem. Not having much practice using the regolith substitute didn't help much either.

Here's another article with a bit more detail.

http://space.newscientist.com/article/d ... ntest.html



I believes its 30KWatts, not watts.


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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 10:04 am
A question regarding the mock lunar dirt: Does anyone know if the mock dirt is kept electrostatically charged like the real lunar dust is by the particle radiation?

If not then this might rule out technologies from the contest perhaps that would work on the Moon but not in the contest.

What about it?



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 1:18 pm
JamesHughes wrote:
I believes its 30KWatts, not watts.
No, it is pretty clear that it really is 30 watts. It sounds small, but when I did the math it seemed not so small after all. 30 watts can lift 150kg to a height of 1 meter in 49 seconds on Earth. Since they have 1,800 seconds to do the job, they only need 2.7% efficiency. Of course this is just lifting the material to dump it in a bin. I suppose the difficulty comes in the digging. The teams did say that they were stymied by the lack of practice time with the mock lunar soil, so maybe it is more difficult to scoop up than regular dirt. I know the Apollo astronauts found the surface to be pretty hard in places, especially when they tried to drill deep core samples.


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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 2:25 pm
Also I suppose that they'd have a lot of problems with the ultra-fine abrasive nature of the dust, seeing as most of the broke down.


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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 2:59 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
JamesHughes wrote:
I believes its 30KWatts, not watts.
No, it is pretty clear that it really is 30 watts. It sounds small, but when I did the math it seemed not so small after all. 30 watts can lift 150kg to a height of 1 meter in 49 seconds on Earth. Since they have 1,800 seconds to do the job, they only need 2.7% efficiency. Of course this is just lifting the material to dump it in a bin. I suppose the difficulty comes in the digging. The teams did say that they were stymied by the lack of practice time with the mock lunar soil, so maybe it is more difficult to scoop up than regular dirt. I know the Apollo astronauts found the surface to be pretty hard in places, especially when they tried to drill deep core samples.


This is a quote from Space.com

Quote:
To win the cash prizes for NASA's Regolith Challenge, teams must demonstrate fully autonomous robots capable of collecting at least 330 pounds (150 kilograms) of mock Moon dirt within 30 minutes. Whichever robot moves the most regolith over the benchmark limit, while still meeting contest specifications, wins, NASA said.

But in order to compete, lunar regolith excavators must weigh less than 88 pounds (40 kilograms) and run on less than 30 kilowatts of power, according to contest rules.


I'm guessing space.com are wrong?


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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 3:08 pm
Hello, James Hughes,

I personally am convinced that 30 kilowatts is correct. When looking for the watts of solar panels I can buy in Germany or round the corner of my appartement the numbers were between 40 watts and 200 watts.

These watts were to power a small house, the starter of a car and the like - too low to enable an electromotor to put sufficient force behind blades or buckets to excavate lunar dirt or dust I suppose. In particular that one that applies a conveyor-belt-like concept.



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 5:52 pm
30 kilowatts is 40 horsepower. I would think any 40 horsepower machine would have no trouble at all digging up 150 kg of dirt in half an hour.


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Post    Posted on: Wed May 16, 2007 5:58 pm
It quite clearly says in the rules that only 30 watts of dc power will be provided. Here is a copy of the rules from the California Space Education & Workforce Institute (CSEWI) who are running the competition for NASA:

http://www.californiaspaceauthority.org/regolith/

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