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NASA held a contest of lunar excavators.. / October 21, 2009 /

The third competition lunar excavators for the first time they ended with the victory of one of the teams. Brief report on the progress of the contest is available on the website of the journal New Scientist. The remuneration amounted to 500 thousand dollars.

Under the terms of the competition Regolith Excavation Challenge excavator weighing not more than 80 pounds must dig at least 150 kilograms of land. Hours apparatus was limited to 30 minutes. Simulating the lunar surface was created on special sites, filled with volcanic dust. Moon dust particles on average five times smaller than grains of sand from the earth, and their edges sharper (on the Moon there is no weathering processes, which smooths the shape of dust particles). At the sites in random order, were placed in four large stones.

Lunar excavators had to be completely autonomous or controlled remotely. When the transmission of signals artificially introduced a delay of not less than two seconds (this is the delay of the signal overcomes the path of the Earth). During competitions, engineers, monitor the operation of vehicles, were in an adjoining room.

Device-winner, created by team members from WPI at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has managed to dig over 440 kilograms of land. In second place was the team excavator fans from Los Angeles. Their robot was able to dig over 260 kilograms of «lunar» soil.

Competitions are a popular way to stimulate the development of high-tech spacecraft. Thus, the development of private space began with the contest Ansari X-Prize, the winner of which is currently conducting a test flight of private aircraft-carriers and spacecraft. Until the end of 2012 there is a contest Google Lunar X-Prize, whose members must deliver to the moon vehicle that can travel 500 meters and transmit to Earth high-quality photo and video.

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