CMU sending rover, art project to 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].