NASA urges students in the United States to develop a lunar digging robot.
The Lunabotics Junior Competition arrives as the space agency approaches the launch of its first Artemis mission, which will fly a spaceship around the moon before a manned landing takes place in the next few years.
As part of an effort to inspire young people to study engineering and even assist NASA on future missions, the agency hopes the competition will spark some unique creative ideas among the country’s youth.
The competition is held in collaboration with Future Engineers and challenges K-12 students to develop a robot capable of digging and moving lunar soil, also known as regolith.
NASA says regolith could one day be used to make moon concrete for buildings that can house astronauts on extended lunar missions.
“Extracting resources in space takes innovation and creativity, and students are some of the most creative thinkers,” said Mike Kincaid, NASA’s associate administrator for the Office of STEM engagement, called in one release. “The next generation always brings new perspectives, inventive ideas and optimism to the challenges that NASA poses to them. I’m really looking forward to seeing the designs you are submitting to Lunabotics Junior. “
Students entering the competition are not expected to build their robot. Instead, they are asked to describe how the robot will be able to dig and move the lunar regolith. The would-be engineers also need to explain how the robot’s design and operation deal with potentially annoying moondust that can drift around and cling to surfaces when regolith is disturbed.
Those who want to take part in the competition can do so individually. Alternatively, teachers can convert it into a class project and enter a group of students together. Submissions will be divided into two categories – grades K-5 and grades 6-12.
Ten semi-finalists will receive a Lunabotics Junior Prize Package and four national finalists from each category will win a virtual session with a NASA expert.
The national winner in each category can participate in a virtual chat for their class with Janet Petro, Director of the Kennedy Space Center.
The closing date for entries for the Lunabotics Junior Contest is January 25, 2022.
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