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October 17 2012

Meet Polaris, The First Ice-Drilling Lunar Prospector-Bot


A first-of-its-kind solar-powered lunar rover can drill 3 feet into the lunar surface, hoisting a vertical triple solar array to capture sunlight from super low on the moon’s horizon. Roboticists at a company called Astrobotic, a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon University, built a working prototype and plan to test it in the next few months.

Astrobotic and CMU hope to nab the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon. Polaris is designed to seek out water ice trapped in the cold craters and regolith at the moon’s poles. It has 3-D cameras and laser guidance systems for navigation, and it will communicate directly with Earth using an S-band antenna.

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