Lunar robot to begin field tests in Hawaii

Oct. 15, 2008 at 2:53 PM

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. space agency says an 880-pound robot designed to locate water and other resources on the moon will soon be field tested in Hawaii.

Built by Carnegie-Mellon University's Robotics Institute for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the robot named Scarab will spend nearly two weeks next month conducting a simulated lunar mission.

Scientists said Scarab, designed to operate at minus 385 degrees Fahrenheit on just 100 watts of power, has a rocker-arm suspension that allows it to travel over steep, rocky inclines and to lower itself to the ground for drilling operations. The drill will cut a core of lunar material, pulverize it and heat it to 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit, university researchers said. Scarab will also be equipped with a gas chromatograph to analyze the gases released by the heat, thereby identifying individual chemicals in the lunar material.

The Nov. 1-13 field test will be held on Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano that's Hawaii's highest mountain.

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