CMU sending rover, art project to moon in 2021 |

CMU sending rover, art project to moon in 2021

Paul Guggenheimer
Carnegie Mellon University
This image shows a four-wheeled robotic rover being developed by CMU alongside the Astrobotic lunar lander. Both are headed for the moon in 2021.

Carnegie Mellon University plans to send a robotic rover and an arts package to the moon in July 2021.

The four-wheeled robot is being developed by a CMU team led by William “Red” Whittaker, a professor in the Robotics Institute. Whitaker described the rover as a “shoebox with wheels.” It weighs only a little more than four pounds and will be equipped with video cameras.

The rover will function as a mobile video platform, transmitting the first ground-level imagery of the site.

The arts package is called MoonArk. It’s the creation of Lowry Burgess, a professor emeritus in the CMU School of Art, and Mark Baskinger, an associate professor in the CMU School of Design. Baskinger calls the project and its contents a capsule of life on Earth, meant to help illustrate a vital part of the human existence.

Both payloads will be delivered to the moon by Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander. Astrobotic is a CMU spinoff company in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. NASA last week awarded a $79.5 million contract to Astrobotic to deliver 14 scientific payloads to the lunar surface, making the July 2021 mission possible. CMU independently negotiated with Astrobotic to hitch a ride on the lander’s first mission.

The Astrobotic landing will be on the near side of the Moon in the vicinity of Lacus Mortis, or Lake of Death, which features a large pit about the size of Heinz Field.

Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].

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