back to article Japan to send ‘transforming robot’ to the Moon in 2022

Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will send a transforming robot to the Moon. The space agency announced its plans and revealed the design depicted below today. You’re looking at a device JAXA says will be 80mm in diameter, before transformation, and weighs in at 250 grams. JAXA transforming moonbot. Copyright JAXA …

  1. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Optimus Zero

    And this is how the adventure began.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Optimus Zero

      Don't get me started on the "should zero be classed as prime" argument

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Optimus Zero

        No, zero is not a prime. For one thing, zero is an even number, being divisible by 2 ... for another, a prime is only divisible by exactly two positive integers, itself and 1. Zero is divisible by all natural numbers.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Zero is divisible by all natural numbers

          It's open to debate if natural numbers include zero or not, but if they do, zero would no be divisible by itself.

          1. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Zero is divisible by all natural numbers

            I'm a computer guy, so it's quite obvious that zero is a natural number.

            For example, as we all know the cake is a lie! ... therefore, it is quite possible for you to have zero pieces of cake. It follows on from this that zero must be a natural number.

            Having zero beers is also possible, but quite sad. This round's on me.

            Why do I suddenly have this dreadful feeling that an ABEND is upon us?

            1. MiguelC Silver badge

              Re: Zero is divisible by all natural numbers

              Between both your posts you posit that zero can not be a natural number ("Zero is divisible by all natural numbers" and, because no number is divisible by zero, q.e.d.), and that zero is a quite obviously a natural number.

              Could zero be the Schrödinger number?

  2. deadlockvictim

    WALL-E

    Since watching WALL-E some 12 years' ago, I have occasionally wondered how difficult it would be to build & send a good many single-function solar-powered robots to the moon to build components for a future space station, although what exactly they could actually do is probably more the pertinent question.

    Is this just a matter of the lack of political will and billions required to fund it or are there are real engineering problems that can't be gotten around?

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Re: WALL-E

      Short Answer: Yes....

      Long Answer: Yes and Yes... :P

      Single function Robots cant build a house on Earth at this time, so you cant really expect them to build one in a vastly more difficult environment like Space or the Moon. So yes there are real (and pretty huge) engineering problems to this Idea. BUT, if there was enough funding, no doubt solutions could be found, although you are looking at at least a 10 year (more like 20 year) project, and politicians dont think beyond the 3-4 year election cycle, so you wont get any political will to put the Billions in to overcome the robot problem.

      As such, I think you are more likely to see modules put together on Earth, launched to the Moon and assembled by humans than everything done by Robots. Humans are vastly more adaptable and can achieve much more, in much less time. And doing it this way, would likely fit within the election cycle funding gamble. There are a lot of projects looking along these lines, but beyond the occasional earth demonstrator I dont think theyve gotten that far (happy to be corrected if someone has more info).

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: WALL-E

        3-D printer = Robot? I've seen a bit of press for 3-D printed houses. Just one example.

        https://www.dezeen.com/2021/05/06/3d-printed-home-project-milestone-eindhoven/#:~:text=A%20boulder%2Dshaped%20concrete%20house,the%20key%20on%20April%2030.&text=The%20home%20was%20designed%20by,the%20shape%20of%20a%20boulder.

        It doesn't seem a big leap that one of these rovers on Mars could have a 3-D printing arm. Water for your slurry becomes the issue.

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Go

          Re: WALL-E

          I think you'll find that the 3D printer for these is bigger then the segments it prints (so half the size of the house probably). So first you need a robot bigger than your house section, to print the house section, and then some way to move said large section into position. Plus foundations to lay, doors/windows, etc. to install.

          It's a nice starting point, but this is not a robot building the house on location, which is where the hard part comes in....

          Still like i said a nice starting point, and good to see there actually making progress on this topic...

        2. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

          Re: WALL-E

          NASA have been seriously considering 3d printing on the moon for building habitats and other things. Google "ISRU In Situ Resource Utilisation" for more.

          You are right, water is needed, and this is one more reason to search for water on the moon and Mars.

    2. HildyJ Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: WALL-E

      What is likely is single function robots which produce components that can later be used. Essentially Lego blocks for a future robot or human to put together.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Impressive

    They've invented the Zabriskan Fontema!

  4. jake Silver badge

    Moon dust ...

    ... got into everything during Apollo.

    Those clearances look awfully tight, I wouldn't want to get a bit of grit in 'em.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Moon dust ...

      I was thinking the same. Moon dust is also highly magnetic, so it will coat everything. Hopefully, the running surfaces of this thing are well sealed.

      Still cool idea. And it's always nice to see Space Agencies trying new ideas...

      1. aje21

        Re: Moon dust ...

        Not just magnetic, but highly corrosive and abrasive?

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Moon dust ...

      Shirley that was down to bad choices by the set designers?

      1. An ominous cow herd

        Re: Moon dust ...

        Of course they did some bad choices, they should have consulted you but no, there they go, thinking they can design it all by themselves just because they're space scientist and engineers

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Moon dust ...

          I'm probably more of a machinist than the suits at JAXA making this announcement. So shoot me.

    3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

      Re: Moon dust ...

      "Those clearances look awfully tight, I wouldn't want to get a bit of grit in 'em."

      The Apollo astronauts described the moon dust as very fine, more like talcum powder than grit. Not sure if that makes it better or worse for getting into moving parts.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Moon dust ...

        Worse. Ask any machinist. Or person who wears contacts.

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Wrong name

    They need to look to their Land Cruiser for the type of build quality and reliability.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Wrong name

      Just send a Hilux

      Although that does mean that when the USA Space Force (insert heroic music) get back to the moon they will be beaten by Clanger insurgents in Toyota pickups

  6. Roger Greenwood

    I read the headline as terraforming...

    those folks lack ambition :-)

  7. D@v3

    This is not the transforming robot i was hoping for

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGuGSbExIC4

  8. iron Silver badge

    Terrahawks

    Looks like a Zeroid from Terrahawks.

    Terrahawks was set in 2020 so they are only two years off!

  9. VeganVegan
    WTF?

    Is that thing really just 80mm?

    That’s tiny!

    Size matters, because the smaller the machine, the more roughness of the surface will be impediments. That’s why lunar & Mars rovers have large diameter wheels.

    How do they expect it to move around on the rough surface of the moon, where ~80mm pebbles and lumps and bumps are expected to be commone.

    Or did I misread the article, and it’s not supposed to be mobile?

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