The Artemis program, which was recently started by NASA, will, at some point, require robots to assist in the survival of the soil on the Moon. To successfully make these robots viable, the program has now turned to the general public. The space agency even started a design challenge. Participants had the mission of improving the RASSOR bucket drums (Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot), which the robots will need to dig on the Moon. All successful designs were quite clever, managing to collect lunar regolith with very little effort, which is highly important if the robots’ presence is to be a long-term one.
The winner of the challenge was a lunar regolith trap designed by Caleb Clausing, which makes use of a passive door in order to pick up enormous amounts of lunar soil, while still being tolerant to dust. Some other designs include a simple but highly effective drum designed by Michael R. Kyle St. Thomas designed a robot that uses tight drums, and effective double-helix design was made by Stephan Weiβenböck. The last model worth to be brought to attention comes from Clix, who innovated a design that uses the robot’s weight and gravity to assist with movement.
Although NASA has looked at all the entries, it will take some time before all designs are tested, and some are even implemented in the technology of Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot. The administration is fine with this and views the acceleration of space tech development as some help from outside the industry. Thanks to this challenge, people will know who to be grateful to if lunar colonists can harvest Moon soil for shelters or, in some other way, reduce the reliance of lunar colonies on resources sent from our home planet.