back to article NASA's robotic moon-dirt grubbing contest is go

August is almost here, and 'tis the season to be building moon-dirt digger droids. That's because the annual NASA lunar autoscoop contest is to be held in California this weekend, with 25 design teams competing for $750,000 in prizes. NASA, plainly no fans of calling a robot spade a robot spade, refer to the contest as the …


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  1. Andy Worth


    And here was me expecting some Moon-dirt digging style robot wars.....

  2. Frumious Bandersnatch

    in other news, seti...

    is digging deep into amanfrommars...

  3. Zmodem

    some title

    could just have

    A hydralic drill with a hoover through the core, and a senor on the rotor to control the power/force of the hydralic/drill

  4. Duncan

    i wonder

    If rather than building materials for moon towns complete with moon town halls and charity shops etc.. and for oxygen production what NASA are really thinking is this could used alongside robotic return vehicles to harvest large amounts of dust/rock from the moon to bring back to earth. As we all know Moon dust is supposed to be rich in ‘helium 3’ a possible component in future fusion based power generation.

  5. Ian R


    Since the moon has no atmosphere worth talking about, the Hoover technique would be a non-starter, or perhaps non-sucker.

    The temptation for a Paris icon is almost overwhelming...

  6. Lukin Brewer


    > A hydralic drill with a hoover through the core, and a senor

    Even if you used one of the old Hoover Seniors, there isn't enough atmosphere to suspend the moondust or cool the motor. Even if there was, the finest particles would escape through the bag, the next particle size up would bung it up, and because the dust is actually pulled through the fan in those old Hoovers, it would end up being choked or damaged by the larger pebbles.

    Plus using an upright Hoover would raise the centre of gravity, making the device less stable.

    You'd be better off using a Dyson (I'm referring to his wheelbarrow with a ball).

  7. Zmodem

    where theres a will theres a way

    a air tight system isnt hard to engineer, and theres probaly a particle that exists if you have the money,

    once the drill has reached a certain depth you could use air from a tank

  8. Ian R
    Thumb Up


    There will be this big hole at the business end where the soil is intended to enter. This will somewhat defeat any attempts at 'air tight'. Let alone the issue of using tanked air - which rapidly escapes to everywhere and only very slightly will increase the pressure returning up the nozzle.

    And if it is useless until you dig down a bit, you'll need two devices, so Occam would tend to indicate that this is a way too complicated and unnecessary solution which probably will have extreme minimum success anyway.

    Also, why would things be better after you have dug a bit? Do you think you are going to reach air-tight mud?

    The horse is definitely dead, I'd stop flogging it if I were you.

    Simplicity is crucial...arm...scoop...conveyor...hopper

  9. Zmodem

    recycle the air

    From the tank, and surface luner dust would be contaminated from meateor impacts, typical space debris and solar storms

    Youd have a purer sample 2m deep

  10. John Dougald McCallum

    Coal mining machinery

    All one needs to do is reduce the size of a continous miner plant somtimes called a road header I think huge beast that rips the coal out and has at least two arms to rake in the shattered coal on to a convayor belt,or rock as the case may be.

  11. Zmodem

    still better to use a drill

    even if it wasnt a vacuum it would still use the principle artic core samples use

    or just use a dirt dog for $129

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