NASA's Lunabotics Competition

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NASA's Lunabotics Competition, previously known as NASA's Robotics Mining Competition (NASA RMC), is a competition established in 2010 for university students to build a mining robot that is designed to navigate on the Moon. The change of the competition name "reflects the future evolution of the competition beyond a mining competition" as NASA follows the President’s Space Policy Directive - 1 to prioritize establishing a forward operation base on the south pole of the Moon as a first step to "human expansions across the solar system." [1]

One team per school is allowed to compete and around 50 schools compete each year. The teams should compose of at least 2 undergraduate students and graduate students who are enrolled in the current school year. The teams also need to include a current faculty member or advisor. There is no limit to the number of members but NASA advises the teams to have a sufficient and manageable size.[2] While the competition is focused on graduate and undergraduate students from four year institutions, invitations are also extended to teams from community colleges.[3] The latest (tenth annual) competition, in May 2019, cancelled all on-site activities and teams competed virtually with their written reports and presentations. University of Alabama's team, Alabama Astrobotics, won for the fifth consecutive year by winning the Grand Prize of The Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence.[4][5]

RMC 2019 Changes[edit]

RMC 2019 was scheduled to take place between May 6th and 10th, 2019 at the Astronaut Memorial Foundation’s Center for Space Education Building in Kennedy Space Center. This year, the competition planned to move the competition arena indoors to avoid delays due to frequent thunderstorms as well as transitioning the mission objective from mining on Mars to mining on the moon. However, due to events such as the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown and subsequent budget delays, the 2019 competition cancelled all on-site competition and activities. The teams are instead only scored on four categories: Plans for Systems Engineering, Systems Engineering Paper, Outreach Project Report, and a Virtual Slide Presentation and Demonstration. The plan and the presentation are optional for participating teams but all four must be submitted to qualify for the Grand Prize. [6] In place of the usual on-site mining at NASA, University of Alabama hosted a Robotic Mining Challenge at the Tuscaloosa campus during the same time period as the originally planned NASA RMC. [7]

RMC Award categories[edit]

The NASA Robotics Mining Competition website provides the following descriptions of the award categories:[8]

  • Efficient Use of Communications Power Award: Awarded to the team for using the lowest average data utilization bandwidth per regolith points earned in both the timed and NASA monitored portion of the competition. Teams MUST collect the minimum amount of regolith to qualify for this award.
  • Regolith Mechanics Award: Awarded to the team with the best example of a real granular innovation that identified a specific regolith mechanics problem (like the way the soil flows around the grousers, or angle of repose too high in their dump bucket, etc.) and intentionally improved their design to deal with it. Courtesy of the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science (CLASS), part of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) Network.
  • Caterpillar Autonomy Award: Awarded to the teams with the first, second and third most autonomous points averaged from both mining attempts, even if no regolith is deposited. In the event of a tie, the team that deposits the most regolith will win. If no regolith is deposited, the Mining Judges will choose the winner.
  • Judge’s Innovation Award: Awarded to the team that demonstrates the most innovative design.
  • Social Media and Public Engagement: Awarded to the teams that uses various social media platforms to engage the public in their participation with MC (mining competition) and engages with NASA and other robotic teams.
  • Slide Presentation and Demonstration: Awarded to the team that best presents their project at the competition in front of an audience including NASA and private industry judges.
  • Outreach Project Report: Awarded to the teams with the best educational outreach project in their local community to engage students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Outreach activities should capitalize on the excitement of NASA’s discoveries to spark student (K-12) interest and involvement in STEM.
  • Systems Engineering Paper: Awarded to the team that best discusses the Systems Engineering methods used to design and build their mining robot. The paper is peer reviewed by support and operations personnel from across the Administration.
  • Robotic On-Site Mining: Awarded to the team that passes robot and communication inspections, mines more than 10 kg of regolith, most efficient use in bandwidth, minimizes robot mass, reports energy consumed, has a dust tolerant design & performs dust free operations, performs tele-robotic and / or autonomously and mines the most resources.
  • Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence: Awarded to the team that scores the most points in both the mandatory and optional competition events.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RMC Name Change". NASA's Lunabotics Competition Facebook. May 15, 2019.
  2. ^ Cannon, Rob. "RMC - About the Competition", NASA RMC Website, April 17, 2015.
  3. ^ "COD Students Compete in Seventh Annual NASA Mining Robotics Competition". Daily Herald. June 13, 2016. Archived from the original on February 25, 2017.
  4. ^ "2017 RMC Award Winners". NASA Kennedy Space Center. May 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "NASA's Robotic Mining Competition (RMC) 2019 Awards" (PDF). NASA Kennedy Space Center. May 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "Changes to the Robotic Mining Competition for May 6-10, 2019" (PDF). NASA Kennedy Space Center. May 30, 2019.
  7. ^ "Alabama Robotic Mining Challenge". Alabama Astrorobotics. May 30, 2019.
  8. ^ "NASA RMC Awards" (PDF). NASA Kennedy Space Center. May 16, 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.