Innovation: Mining on the Moon

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Check out this solar-powered rover designed to prospect for ice on the moon.

From my article for the Big Ideas Special Report in Inc. Magazine

In the past three years, NASA satellites have discovered evidence of ice on the poles of the moon. That’s a huge boon for future space missions, because lunar ice could be a source of water, oxygen, and fuel. Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology recently unveiled a prototype of a solar-powered lunar rover, Polaris, designed to locate ice on the north pole of the moon and extract samples for analysis. The 300-pound vehicleis made of light, tough composite materials and can accommodate a drill and science instruments weighing up to 176 pounds. William (“Red”) Whittaker, director of the Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University, founded Astrobotic in 2008. Since then, the company has received $3.6 million in contracts from NASA; it is a front-runner for the Google Lunar X Prize, which will be awarded to the first team to land a privately developed robot on the moon. Astrobotic plans to send Polaris to the moon in October 2015 using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the same rocketused to complete a recent cargo run to the International Space Station…read more.

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