CMU Sending A Rover And Miniature Museum To The Moon

Melinda Roeder
June 06, 2019 - 12:41 pm

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Carnegie Mellon University is headed to the moon!  Two creations – a robotic rover – and a miniature museum will be on board a lander to be launched in 2021.

The rover is a 4-wheeled robot that’s about the size of a shoebox.  It was created by William Whittaker, professor in the CMU Robotics Institute, and his team of researchers.  The rover will record video and images on the surface of the moon, including an area known as Lacus Mortis, or Lake of Death, which is a large pit believed to contain water and ice. 

The museum is called MoonArk and it’s designed to be a miniature time capsule of art, culture, and life on earth today.  Mark Baskinger, associate professor in the CMU School of Design, says the capsule will include thousands of images, photos, poems, and maps that have all been shrunken down in size.  Droplets of water from earth’s oceans and Pittsburgh’s rivers will also be included, along with a specially designed perfume.

“Getting stuff to moon has to be very durable and also hyper light.  So that was a huge challenge for us to pack like a cathedral’s worth of cultural information into these very small chambers,” says Baskinger.

The MoonArk capsule is made up of four chambers, each two inches tall and two inches in diameter. They weigh a combined 8 ounces.

Baskinger says with such limited space, it was a lengthy process determining what to include in the MoonArk.

“We often refer to this project as designing the future fossil object. What is the thing that someone will discover hundreds or thousands of years from now and learn something about us today?”

Both the rover and the MoonArk will be delivered to the moon by a Peregrine lander, built and operated by Astrobotic Inc., a CMU spinoff company in Pittsburgh.

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