NASA Wants Robots to Sniff Out Moon Pits for Astronaut Homes

Space.com | 6/19/2019 | Chelsea Gohd
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Click For Photo: https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/VTwavskfuJMxAcW7yNaLYL-1200-80.jpg

With funding from NASA, researchers are working to build robots that can explore moon pits, sinkhole-like structures that could be full of resources and could even make good astronaut homes.

The grant comes as part of NASA's Artemis mission, which is slated to return humankind to the lunar surface by 2024. The $2 million research initiative awarded to roboticists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) will help develop robots specialized to enter moon pits. Researchers at CMU consider those pits a key priority for the resource use and habitat construction they see as part of future lunar development.

Pits - Question - Sinkholes - Earth - Craters

The pits in question resemble sinkholes here on Earth. While craters on the moon are created from impacts with objects like asteroids, these pits form when the moon's surface collapses. Some scientists suspect that these pits could reveal larger caverns under the moon's surface that could protect humans from radiation.

But scientists can't know for sure without looking inside, and that would be dangerous for humans to do. So in order to find out for sure how well these pits would work for future lunar inhabitants and what the features might contain, NASA wants robots that can explore the depressions.

Contract - Robots - Data - Pits - Help

That's where the new contract comes in: The robots being developed could collect data about the pits and help to develop models of the features, which have previously been studied only with orbital images.

"From orbit, you can't get the viewpoints or proximity to see...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Space.com
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