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Submission + - Space Elevator Teams Compete for NASA Prizes

Hugh Pickens writes: "The University of Saskatchewan's has the first place climb in the Second Annual Space Elevator Games being held this weekend at the Davis County Event Center in Salt Lake City with teams competing for $1,000,000 in NASA prize money. Although the idea of a space elevator has been around for decades, the space technologies needed to support it have yet to be created so the non-profit Spaceward Foundation has hosted an annual competition since 2005, supported by a cash prize from NASA, to build a super-strong tether similar to what would be needed to support a real elevator, or get a robot to climb a suspended ribbon. In the robot climber competition, teams have to get their device to hurtle up a 100-metre-long ribbon, suspended from a crane, at an average speed of two metres per second. The climber must be powered from the ground: strategies include reflecting sunlight from huge mirrors on the ground to solar panels on the climber; shining lasers from the ground up to similar panels on the robot; or firing microwaves up at the climber. Qualifying rounds have been taking place all week, and although high winds and rain have caused delays, four out of eight teams have made it into the finals. There are no outdoor climbs today because of bad weather but that some of the tether competitions will happen indoors later this afternoon."

Submission + - Carnegie Mellon to build Lunar X-Prize robot

Anonymous Coward writes: "Google's Lunar X-Prize already has a prominent entry, William Whittaker, a researcher from Carnegie Mellon University said that he will be assembling a team to development a robot that will be be competing for the $20 million grand prize. According to this story, Whittaker has some unfair advantage, as he has developed a pretty cool lunar rover for NASA that "can find concentrations of hydrogen, possibly water and other volatile chemicals on the moon that could be mined to produce fuel, water and air that are essential for supporting lunar outposts." The Lunar X-Prize runs until the end of 2012 and Carnegie Mellon's announcement could be a first indication that reserachers are taking this challenge very seriously."

Submission + - Carnegie Mellon Building Lunar Prospecting Rover (

jkua writes: Researchers in the Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute unveiled to the press today a prototype lunar rover called Scarab, which is being developed with NASA funding to seek out hydrogen and other volatiles in the permanently dark craters at the poles of the moon, where they are suspected to have been deposited by cometary impacts. Scarab will carry a drill currently being developed by the Northern Centre For Advanced Technology which will be capable of taking 1 meter length cores of lunar regolith, using an adjustable suspension that will allow the rover to bring the drill to the ground for coring operations, yet still be able to carry the drill over obstacles while traversing the rough lunar terrain. For power, since there is no sunlight in the polar craters, the rover will carry a radioisotope source being developed at NASA's Glenn Research Center which will provide approximately 175W of electrical power. Due to these power constraints, the rover operates very slowly, traveling at a top speed of 10cm/s and will use low-powered light striping sensors that are also being developed at Carnegie Mellon. This project is being developed separately from CMU's Google Lunar X-Prize effort.

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